What We Can Learn From Baby Boomers’ Restaurant Habits

Baby Boomers restaurantMy little brother, a brilliant young fellow who works at an advertising agency in Middle America, often declares that we can “blame it on the Baby Boomers.” Typically, he applies this logic to global warming and the Social Security crisis, but there are other things he can blame on the Baby Boomers. Take, for example, the fact that most restaurants now offer a customizable soup/salad/sandwich lunch for a great price. It turns out that we can blame that on the Baby Boomers, too.

Blame It on the Baby Boomers

A study recently came out that shows that Baby Boomers now make up the bulk of all restaurant diners, despite the recession. On a somewhat related note, young people are dining out less than ever, despite the fact that most restaurant marketing has been targeted at the Millennials and their ilk. In fact, the NPD study found that Baby Boomers have increased their restaurant consumption by about six percent, while the rate at which the Millennials dine out has fallen by the same amount. This dining phenomenon is thought to be caused by a lot of factors, including the fact that the Baby Boomers have more disposable income and that they are often attempting to live as they did in younger years.

Despite the fact that Baby Boomers have been the largest consumer of restaurant food for quite some time, most restaurant marketing has been geared towards the Millennial Generation. Now, many restaurants are vying to play “catch up” with their marketing and branding to keep the Boomers happy and eating out. Most of the new measures address the aging group’s needs as older adults. For example, menus with larger print (for older eyes), quieter and more soothing music in the restaurant (for older ears) and spicier and more flavorful food (for older taste buds that might not quite grasp subtlety anymore).

So if you have been wondering why the Applebee’s menu is 48 pages long and in 72 pt font, you have your answer. Blame it on the Baby Boomers.

What’s the Point?

Lest you worry that I decided to write an entire post detailing what my brother and I blame on the Baby Boomer generation, I assure you that there is a point. Restaurants, despite their efforts to market to the Millennial Generation, missed the mark when it came to valuing their actual customers and now are having to play catch up on their marketing strategy. The lesson we can take away from this is that you have to market yourself not only to the customers that you want, but also the customers that you have.

If you have misjudged who your customers and clients are, it may be time for you to change course, turn your music down and increase the font size on your content.

Do you know who your customers actually are? How have you adjusted your marketing and branding to reflect the needs and wants of your customer base?

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A teacher by trade, Elizabeth LaBelle graduated with honors from the University of Michigan in 2011. After specializing in Political Science and Francophone Studies with a minor in Korean, the only tangible skill she can show for it is the ability to write in all three languages. Elizabeth never thought she would get paid to write in any language – but after four years washing dishes in an industrial kitchen and a year selling office supplies door-to-door, nothing surprises her. When she’s not writing or teaching, Elizabeth coaches high school debate and forensics. Her hobbies include thoroughbred racing, competitive pool playing and hunting for the perfect Chicago apartment.

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