Are dinner planning behaviours generational?

Wednesday, 12 September, 2018

Are dinner planning behaviours generational?

How do you define a homemade meal: where everything is made from scratch or where you’ve had some influence over the preparation process? This is one of the differences between Gen Xers and millennials, but there are also a number of similarities among generations. Food market research by the NPD Group found dinner planning behaviours can be impacted by generational values, as well as age and life stage.

As millennials age and move into different life stages (single, married, parents), some of their habits are becoming more similar to generations that preceded them. Both millennial and Gen Xer parents with children in the household invest more time in food preparation, cooking family dinners that take between 10 and 59 minutes. NPD's recent Future of Dinner study predicted these types of invested dinners will grow over the next five years.

Gen Xers grew up exposed to cooking from scratch, so they placed more emphasis on the difference between a homemade and a partially prepared meal than millennials. Gen Xers also taught their children — Generation Z, born 1997 to present — that food fits into life, meaning Gen Z expect food and food brands to follow their needs and not the other way around.

Gen Zs, who are now young adults, are exhibiting the same life stage behaviours when they plan their dinner that millennials and other generations did. They are constantly blurring the line between access (how fast it gets to them) and convenience (how easy it is to use). But one generational behaviour that will likely continue for Gen Z is that they are growing up in a globally connected and fast-paced world, and expect flavours of the world to be available.

"It's a common oversight not to age generations or recognise how life stage can impact behaviour," said David Portalatin, NPD Food Industry Advisor. "To understand the difference between generational and life stage behaviours enables food companies and foodservice operators to develop products, menus and marketing messages that are more relevant to their target consumer audiences."

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