How The Changing Food Habits Of Millennials Are Impacting The Restaurant Business

Millenial's changing food habits impacting restaurant business

The dining out culture in India has changed drastically, and the changing food habits of the Millennial generation have had a significant contribution to this trend. Millennials or Generation Y (people between the ages of 18 and 35) make up 65% of India’s population. They are the tech-savvy people, are regularly exposed to the global trends and lifestyles, are well-read, have extensively traveled, and have high spending power. And, they are also the ones who are driving the growth index of the restaurant industry. 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 Millennials 

Further, let us look at how millennials are changing the food industry and the impact it has on the Food Business Industry.

1. Millennials Eat Out More Often

Image Source: Dii Essence Hospitality

Age group profile of those who eat out, that will have an impact on the changing food habits.

Millennials and eating out go hand-in-hand! The changing food habits of Millennials 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 dining 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. QSR Industry is proliferating because of the millennial food trend of eating out more often. 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, the work-life imbalance has also been instrumental in people eating out or exploring home food delivery options more frequently. Also, eating out, especially at premium places, allow people 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 the F&B market, which earns it 50% of revenues of the entire 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. This means that while they want to indulge in the practice of eating out and eating right, they want to be mindful of what they eat and will select their places after thorough consideration. Young people prefer places with strong food ethics. They want to know how fresh or organic their food is, 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 environmentally conscious citizens and are not shy about advocating the cause through their lifestyle. Millennial’s changing food habits are an impact of the advent of trends like Veganism and Health Food.

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 help to produce ethical and sustainable sourcing. No wonder, we see many organic eateries in India like Organic Express in Gurgaon, Rasa India and Green Theory in Bangalore, and Birdsong and The Pantry in Mumbai.

It is also a good chance for Restaurants to innovate according to rising and changing food trends. Restaurants can now experiment with different ingredients and serve a niche clientele along with regular consumers to be the market leaders in the industry. For example, a restaurant that introduces a vegan menu will be taking advantage of the rising vegan market at the ripest time since the supply of vegan food in restaurants is still rare. New opportunities for growth and innovation are opening for restaurants.

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, instead ‘eating right and healthy‘ is.

Indian Millennials want to eat healthy this is one of the changing food habits of this generation.

Trigger Behind the Change

People are becoming more health-conscious today, and the trend is impacting the changing food habits of young people. They frequently hit the gyms, visit nutritionists, follow health groups on social media, and generally take better care of their health. Because millennials have grown up in the age of globalization, they are more conscious of health trends going around the world and are more sensitive to body perceptions. While they are consciously changing their food habits, their diet is also unconsciously being affected by changing global trends in the fitness industry.

Impact on the Restaurant Industry

Restaurants who are transparent about their ingredients and product claims, and serve low fat, low carb, a gluten-free, sugar-free, little 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 regular patronage.

Even the restaurants that offer regular but non-greasy food will fare well as millennials, unlike baby boomers do not just count calories. Yes, their changing food habits are a result of wanting to go the healthy route, but they still count eating out and eating well as a celebration. Because of this, they allow themselves to indulge in ‘not completely healthy’ but also ‘not completely unhealthy’ food once a while.

4. Millennials Want To Experiment With Different And Exotic Cuisines

Earlier people preferred 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 and this is one of the changing food habits of this generation.

Trigger behind the change

Traveling to broader destinations and access to global trends have given them more significant 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

The inclination of changing the food habits of millennials towards experimental tastes is good news in the restaurant industry. This is encouraging home-grown as well as international players to expand their menu and geographical presence. Many global 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.

Apart from this, food from the Indian sub-continent is being explored in greater depth. Food from Assam, Bihar, Kolkata and other such states is making its way to South India, while Dosas and uttapams are traveling to the hills. The exchange of food is happening not just between different countries and India but within the various states of India as well.

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, luxurious decor, and warm ambiance, 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 significant trigger behind the changing food habits. Also, for most of them, restaurants are 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 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. Their changing food habits are making them step out for a fulfilling dining experience more than ever. What could be better news for restaurants to boost their business? Hope restaurant owners are listening!

Rating: 4.8/5. From 5 votes.
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Daniel McCarthy is a seasoned restaurant consultant and serves as the Communication Manager at Restroworks, a prominent F&B SaaS company. Drawing from his vast knowledge of leveraging innovative technological solutions, Daniel excels at enhancing restaurant operations and revenue, thereby contributing to the ongoing transformation of the industry.


  1. Eating habits of indians have changed immensely over the last few years. People dont have the time to cook at home and are instead ordering food online.

  2. Great article!
    We have seen a change in food habits in India. People want to experiment more especially the Millenials. They are bored of the old.
    It is very important to keep your restaurant updated and to meet the changing habits.

  3. With the changing food and eating habits of the Indians, restaurant business to has to change their ways and strategies to attract the millennials. This article provides useful information on how the changing habits will impact the restaurant business.

  4. Millennial trends have caused a rise not just in going out, but in the explosion of the fast-casual chain, which observers note will soon overtake fast food. Good Read.

  5. Millennials have the power to impact the restaurant sales. They are the most active people and tend to spend the highest on food.
    Millennials impact on the restaurant industry is very significant, ignoring them won’t do any good for your business.

  6. I found this article very helpful. writer has mention all the aspects that impact the food service industry and also justify why it is happening. nicely written. I would rate it 5 star!!


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