Restaurant Consumer Insights: Generational Trends and Guest Perceptions on Tipping, QR Codes and Reduced Menus

Consumers continue to change their dining behaviors, and some of those changes might be for good. In two recent US consumer surveys, RMS examined how millennials, boomers, singles and families are dining out and also looked at the overall restaurant experience, specifically how guests feel about matters of tipping, QR codes and reduced menus.

Both reports are available for free download. Here are several of the key takeaways you will find in each.

Q2 2022: How Generations and Families Are Dining Out These Days

  • Millennials continue to drive delivery usage; 84% report ordering delivery at least once a week.
  • ​​In Q2, nearly 1 in 3 millennials and Gen Z-ers visited QSRs “more or much more.” For boomers, that figure was just 8%.
  • Going forward, 29% of Gen Z intents to increase their drive-thru visits, up a steep 17%. Gen Z is also the most likely to return to sit-down restaurants.
  • Younger generations spent more on restaurants this past year; older generations spent less.
  • Gen Xers are trading down, while boomers are limiting how often they eat out and choose to order less.
  • 41% of family households are spending more on restaurants compared to last year, but 38% of single households are spending less.
  • Over the coming months, operators should see about the same number of single households in their drive-thru lanes but an increase of families, with 1 in 3 family households intending to increase drive-thru visits.
  • Special deals and promos appeal most to boomers and families.

2022 Q2: The Restaurant Experience and What Guests Think About Tipping, QR Codes and Reduced Menus

  • Guests still want to visit restaurants. In May, 70% of respondents made at least one visit to a sit-down restaurant; 50% reported at least one visit to a limited-service restaurant.
  • Reasons guests visited a sit-down restaurant included enjoying a family dinner or a casual night out. 
  • Special deals compelled 1 in 3 guests to visit a limited-service restaurant.
  • More than half of respondents believe tipping is an effective way to support restaurant staff, but nearly the same percentage believe tipping should only be expected at full-service restaurants.
  • Half of guests aren’t fans of tipping suggestions when checking out.
  • QR codes are falling out of favor, with 2 in 3 guests preferring printed menus. Generationally, younger guests have a more positive view of QR codes.
  • When it comes to menus, half of guests no longer find what they ordered in the past and feel there is less variety.
  • Family bundles appeal to households of three-plus people seeking value and quantity. More than half the family households surveyed report ordering family meals at least every two weeks.

Download both reports for a deep dive into generational preferences regarding dining out and guests’ thoughts about today’s restaurant experience. Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive the latest consumer trends and industry insights straight to your inbox.

If your restaurant or franchise wants to learn more about changing guest behavior and trends to develop a profitable plan, please reach out to learn more.

Related resources