Who said you need 3 square meals a day?

breakfastHeard about the new all-day breakfast menus that are coming to popular fast food chains? McDonald’s has had it for a while and now A&W has joined in the trend.

Millennials are probably saying “about time”! While baby boomers and Gen X, on the other hand, might be shaking their heads in disapproval.

But it’s the millennials, who form a major part of their consumers, that the fast food industry is concerned about. And the fact is that they want to eat breakfast at any time or throughout the day. I have two kids that have taught me that.

I must confess it’s a comforting thought, to be able to grab bacon and eggs (minus the bread of course) any time you want and I could easily become a believer!

Having said that, all-day breakfast is not an entirely new concept. Or IHOP and Cora would have shut shop long ago. But until now it has been a specialty segment and once-in-a-way kind of indulgence. I recall a friend in Boston used to have an upside-down day, one Friday every month, where her kids ate breakfast foods at dinner time. When they become parents however, it might become a regular feature for their families. So, Gen Z is likely to believe that is the norm.

Millennial eating habits are revolutionizing the food industry. This Internet generation does not want to be bogged down by specific eating times or the sit-down, three-square meal approach, us older folks have been taught to follow.

They eat on demand and when it’s convenient. Smaller meals, several times a day. (Snacking is not bad, like we make it out to be!) Most often, gobbling food on the go or at their desks. So, they aren’t particularly happy when you ask them to stop what they are doing and sit down for a family meal.

Also, if you’re bursting a blood vessel every time you see empty plates in your kids’ bedrooms… give it up! It’s worse for your health than theirs. All that telling hasn’t worked for a reason and it’s not the upbringing that’s the problem, as their grandparents so graciously point out! They’re just wired differently. (I wish we could use this disclaimer on everything they do!)

While they often exhibit a preference for cheap food, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are less discerning or unhealthy eaters. Probably just convenience, or pocket constraints sometimes. For ‘organic’, ‘local’, ‘fresh’, ‘probiotic’, etc. are the keywords in their food bible.

All the yogurt, protein bars, meal replacement shakes and culturally-diverse foods that have invaded the grocery shelves are targeting this influential segment.
That also explains the neatly packaged after-gym snack (fresh fruit and nuts) containers in the Metro flyer… and the popularity of ‘Soylent’ liquid meals, powders and bars. The company’s motto matching the millennial lifestyle—convenient, complete foods designed to provide maximum nutrition with minimal effort. On the go or at your desk, I might add.
Far from faint-hearted, they are keen to try different cuisines and attribute a great deal of importance to the ‘experience’ rather than just the food or drink itself. Which means they are willing to pay for a good time and are not always looking for a ‘value meal’.

There is also a growing a preference for online shopping–not just electronics but groceries and food too. (I have my son’s credit card statements to prove that.) Staunch supporters of the ‘time is money’ maxim, they find rambling through the grocery store or waiting for a meal in a restaurant more wasteful than paying a premium for items delivered to your door. UberEats and other such services can definitely count on them!

Therefore, restaurant operators who are seeing declining numbers, in their largely baby boomer or Gen X clientele, would perhaps be better served adjusting to the all-day snack or breakfast approach to draw in the Uber generation.

Baby boomers and Gen X that slave over meals in the kitchen and attach a great deal of importance to the conversations at the dinner table might do well to be flexible if they want to ‘get hip’ with their kids and grand kids. Judging by the unrelenting silence when you’ve dragged them to the dinner table and market trends, we might not have a choice!

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