If there is one meal that exemplifies the differences among generations, it’s dinner, according to a study produced by The NPD Group, Chicago. In fact, when it comes to dinner, each group’s motivations, needs and wants vary significantly.
Millennials, who are all about personalization and wanting to add their own touch, want more control and involvement in the foods and meals they eat, according to the study “A Generational Study: The Evolution of Eating.” Because of this need, they have shifted some of their dinner occasions from away-from-home to in-home. They see dinner as an experience, and believe that playing a part in the cooking process equates to “cooking from scratch.” Meanwhile, Gen Xers plan dinner meals around the family and calendar, and Baby Boomers, many of whom are empty nesters or are facing health conditions, are shifting some of their dinner occasions from in-home to restaurants.
As for what’s actually cooking for dinner, Millennials have been incorporating more side dishes into their dinners over the last decade, a gain that has been offset by Boomers decreasing their side dishes. Homemade cooking has stabilized after decades of decline due to the increased interest in cooking among young adults. Center-of-plate proteins rebounded among kids, teens and young adults, while older adults are consuming less.
“A counterintuitive shift is taking place when it comes to eating behaviors that defies traditional aging patterns, and the dinner meal is an example of this shift,” says David Portalatin, vice president, industry analysis. “Millennials and Boomers answer the ‘what’s for dinner’ question differently. An understanding of the motivations and needs that drive each group’s answer to the dinner question will assist manufacturers and retailers in meeting their needs today and inform the future.”