Fish and chip shop owners should target the over 50s as 25-to-34-year-olds curb their eating out habits, says global information company The NPD Group.
The recommendation comes as the company predicts a decrease in eat-out or out-of-home (OOH) visits by consumers aged 25-to-34 between now and 2022 from 20% to around 18%. This is equivalent to 155 million fewer visits annually and a potential loss in annual spend of up to £800 million.
The over 50s, however, it says is the fast-growing demographic and will account for more than 70% of the growth in the country’s population between now and 2022.
This is an attractive proposition for British foodservice, especially as many over 50s are wealthier, more active and more experimental when eating out than previous generations. Total OOH visits among people aged 50+ could increase by more than 4% by 2022 (130 million visits), three times faster than the total OOH market.
The over 50s are also the biggest spenders when it comes to eating out, with the average bill for the 50-to-64 age group at a full-service restaurant being £13.41, higher than any of the other age bands, including 25-to-34s. The over 65s have the second highest average spend at £13.10.
Older customers will also sustain weekend business. The NPD Group says the over 50s will drive more than half of an expected 14% increase in weekend foodservice traffic by 2022, and eventually account for 29% of weekend visits.
As the over 50s become more tech savvy, the NPD Group says the industry can expand home delivery, especially if operators innovate with lighter food options. Menus can offer more low-GI foods, for example, including many fruits and vegetables, beans, minimally processed grains, pasta, low-fat dairy foods and nuts. Menus can do more to assist consumers who are diabetic or who are watching their cholesterol.
Cyril Lavenant, foodservice director UK at the NPD Group, said: “Foodservice operators seeking growth in the next five years should be aware that business coming from the 25-to-34 age band, which includes many ‘millennials’, is likely to drop. Visits from this age group have been dropping since 2007. One reason is that millennials typically need new experiences and sources of inspiration that the foodservice industry does not necessarily provide. The 25-to-34s are also facing higher living costs than ever, especially in housing and childcare, and this is prompting them to cut back on foodservice purchases. Operators and suppliers will have to work hard to determine what could bring the 25-to-34s back to the market. But now is also the right time to think more about the needs of the over 50s. There are huge differences in levels of fitness, mobility and prosperity as people move beyond 50 and into their 60s and 70s. But this is still a big opportunity for the foodservice industry.”