What’s on the Menu for Millennials? Your QSR Brand — If You Know Their Behaviors and Intent

Millennials may be over the once-ubiquitous “millennial pink” hue, but they haven’t lost their appetite for eating out — quite the contrary. Even with inflation rates the highest this generation has ever seen (including the years before they were born), they continue to enjoy food away from home.

At more than 75 million strong, millennials are the largest adult generation in the US. Now, consider their $1 trillion spending power, which McKinsey reports will increase as their income reaches $8.3 trillion by 2025. Our conclusion: It pays for restaurant brands to give these adults some specialized attention.

RMS conducted several US consumer surveys to identify generational dining habits and other trends. Here’s what to know about the care and feeding of millennials — or, for a deeper dive, view all of our reports.

  • Millennials’ desire to pull up to the next drive-thru window is not waning. In the first quarter of 2022, this generation increased its drive-thru visits by 5% compared to Q4 21. By June 2022, nearly one-third of millennials planned to increase their drive-thru trips “more” or “much more” moving forward.
  • While millennials visited QSRs 9% less in Q1 22 compared to Q4 21 (still not as steep a drop as Gen Z’s, which was a significant 19% decrease for the same time frame), 31% reported going “more” or “much more” in June 2022; a 9% increase in visits to their favorite QSRs.
  • Compared to other generations, millennials are relying the most on delivery. Usage was up from 71% of respondents in Q1 22 to 84% in Q2 22, the largest increase among all generations.
  • When it comes to value, millennials have the most positive perspective, with just 1 in 4 reporting they get less value when dining out. (Boomers were lowest at 48%.) Among millennials who did feel they were getting less value, 17% cited poor service as the contributing factor.
  • Compared to last year, 39% of millennials reported spending more on restaurants and blamed higher prices and delivery fees as the culprits. However, it might also be due to generosity: 1 in 4 millennials reported tipping more vs. only 8% of Gen Z.
  • Finally, millennials turned to national chain restaurants, reporting a 10% increase over the past month. Conversely, boomers were down.

For QSRs operators and franchisors, there are many opportunities to be found among this group of 24- to 41-year-old adults. If you’re interested in maximizing profits by putting together an action plan targeting millennial guest behavior (or any of the generations you serve), RMS can help.

All our reports, including those referenced above, are available for free download. If there’s a topic you’d like covered, let us know, and please subscribe to our mailing list for the latest consumer trends and industry insights.

Related resources