How the Indian Millennials’ Changing Food Habits is Impacting the Restaurant Business

The dining out culture in India has changed drastically, and the changing food habits of the Millennial generation has had a major contribution towards this trend. Millennials or the Generation Y (people between the ages 18 and 35) make up 65% of India’s population. They are the people who are tech-savvy, are constantly exposed to the global trends and lifestyles, are well read, have extensively travelled and have a high spending power. And, they are also the ones who are driving the growth index of the restaurant industry. In fact, the trend of splitting bills, or ‘Going Dutch’ has also caught on, where the people equally split the bill among themselves. Millennials’ food habits are different from that of the Baby Boomers, and thus have a significant impact on the restaurant business. Over the past few years, India has witnessed a proliferation of fine dining restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, clubs, lounges, and international fast food joints, which have to come up to cater to the Millennials’ changing food habits.

The recent report by the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) says that the size of the Indian food services industry is estimated to reach INR 408,040 crore by 2018.

According to a survey by Franchise India, 34% of the people eat out two to three times a week, while 27% eat once a week, about 11% eat three or more times a week, 12% eat once a month, 3% eat on special occasions, while 12% love to eat daily at a restaurant.

Changing Food Habits of Indian Millennials 

Further, let us look at how the food habits of Indian Millennials has changed, and its impact on the Food Business Industry.

1. Millennials Eat Out More Often

Image Source: Dii Essence Hospitality

Age group profile of those who eat out

Millennials’ changing food habits are different from their parents; they eat out more often. A study by the NRAI also reports that Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) and Casual Dine-in formats account for 74% of the total chain market, while Cafés make up for 12% with Fine Dining and Pub Bars Club & Lounges (PBCL) comprising the rest.

Although dine in makes up the highest 67%, of the total QSR sales, it is followed by takeaway orders which make up for 19% of the sales. Around 80% of the consumers order food at least twice a month in larger cities, and 34% of the total consumers prefer on-the-go meals during office hours.

Trigger Behind the Change

The per capita income of the Indians has increased and there are more working people/couples per household, With more disposable income at hand, they have higher spending power on food. Though, work-life imbalance has been also instrumental in people eating out or exploring home food delivery options more frequently. Also, eating out, especially at premium places give people an opportunity to flaunt their social quotient.

Impact on the Restaurant Industry

The direct benefit for restaurants from more people dining out is in its revenue generation. It only makes sense for them to offer more and better of what customers want. If they are already doing so, then they need to keep reinventing so that customers continue their patronage. For instance, Marriott Group of Hotels launched restaurants such as Redzon, Shakahari, Momo Café to tap into F&B market which earns it 50% of revenues of the total business. Then, there is McDonald’s which is planning to increase the number of its restaurants from 175 to 250 in the next five years across west and south India.

2. Millennials Prefer Conscious Indulgence

The millennials’ changing food habits are more inclined towards conscious indulgence. Young people prefer places with strong food ethics. They want to know how fresh or organic is their food, where their food is coming from, and if it is ethically sourced.

Trigger Behind the Change

There is an increased awareness in the young generation about the impact of the food industry on the environment, how they are sourced and which foods are organic and which aren’t. Moreover, they are environment conscious citizens and are not shy of advocating the cause through their lifestyle.

Impact on the Restaurant Industry

While places that serve meat with human antibiotics might lose out in this category, this, on the other hand, bodes well for restaurants who claim to serve to produce with ethical and sustainable sourcing. No wonder, we are seeing many organic eateries in India like Organic Express in Gurgaon, Rasa India and Green Theory in Bangalore, and Birdsong and The Pantry in Mumbai.

3. Millennials Want Healthy Food

While the generation X or the baby boomers counted calories and preferred not to eat much food to avoid weight gain, today’s youth knows that ‘not eating’ is not the right option, rather ‘eating right and healthy’ is.

 Indian Millennials want to eat healthy

Trigger Behind the Change

People are becoming more health conscious today, and the trend is impacting the changing food habits of the young people. They frequent gyms, visit nutritionists, follow health groups on social media and generally take better care of their health.

Impact on the Restaurant Industry

Restaurants who are transparent about their ingredients and product claims, and serve low fat, low carb, gluten-free, sugar-free, low salt, no trans fats, GMO-free, no corn syrup, Carmine, and additives foods in their menu will usually find themselves in the good books of consumers and enjoy a regular patronage.

4. Millennials Want To Experiment With Different And Exotic Cuisines

While earlier people preferred sticking to a few tried and tested cuisines like South Indian and Punjabi, today Millennials’ food habits are more adventurous and do not shy out on experimenting with different cuisines on the domestic and international level. You will find people enthusiastically trying out an Indonesian Gado-Gado or a Paella Valenciana, even if they have never heard of these names before.

 Indian Millennials wants to experiment with different and exotic dishes

Trigger behind the change

Traveling to broader destinations and access to global trends have given them a greater exposure to other cultures and a willingness to embrace them including their food. Additionally, people are addicted to food channels on TV and food boards on Pinterest or websites, and usually, want to consume what they see and crave.

Impact on the Restaurant Industry

This is encouraging home-grown as well as international players to expand their menu and geographical presence. A number of international food chains like Burger King, Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts, Jamie Oliver and Carl’s Jr have entered India over the past few years with specific cuisines and product offerings.

5. Millennials Want A Gastronomical Experience

People can eat at home, so what is it that makes them step out? It’s the reward of a truly authentic experience that they receive while dining out. Be it the hospitable service, rich decor and warm ambience, live performances or music, innovative menu, and little elements of surprise that make their experience rewarding and unforgettable.

Trigger behind the change

Overworked and stressed out consumers consider dining out as a way to unwind themselves. The high-paced lifestyle is a major trigger behind the changing food habits. Also, for most of them, restaurants are also the place where they bond with family and connect with friends.

Impact on the Restaurant Industry

People today are willing to pay a premium for an exceptional service and experience. Restaurants who can understand this need of their consumers and cater to their choices will go a long way in satisfying their customers, and their cash registers. Take, for example, Pink Poppadom in Bangalore that serves adventurous gourmet food to satisfy progressive palates. It sports fresh modern vibes, pink theme, an open kitchen, and a lavish space with a well-stocked bar and a temperature controlled wine cellar.

Millennials are foodies. They are stepping out for a fulfilling dining experience. What could be a better news for restaurants to boost their business? Hope restaurant owners are listening!

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