Convenience is top of the menu for younger diners in US

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American restaurants and food service outlets serving up convenience are poised to do well in this post-recession economy, according to a new report from Mintel.

The study suggests that although value has become the mantra of many contemporary diners, convenience still resonates with the out-to-eat crowd, especially those under age 34.

Over half of younger adults rank a restaurant’s proximity to their workplace as very important/important when selecting where to dine (62% of 25-34-year olds and 55% of 18-24-year olds, versus 41% of all respondents).

The ability to order online ahead of time is also essential to young, time-strapped consumers (31% of 25-34-year olds and 24% of 18-24-year olds, versus 19% overall). The younger demographics also rank extended hours such as late-night opening and speed of service highly in their restaurant selection processes.

“Though value remains important to diners in this economy, our survey reveals convenience may be equally as important. Young adults and young families, especially, are pressed for time, making restaurants an easy and often necessary solution for meals. As foods ervice establishments struggle for revenue, improving convenience may help them get diners in the door,” said Chris Haack, senior analyst at Mintel.

While 43% of respondents told Mintel they’ve cut spending on home delivery and take away meals this year, approximately one in six 18-34-year-olds say they’re spending more on these convenient services compared to 2008.

In the past three months, 18-34-year olds were twice as likely as the general population to have ordered a home delivery meal. Approximately 30% of them picked up food from a restaurant, compared to 20% of all respondents.

Restaurants make mealtime easier, especially for 25 to 34-year olds, many of whom work full-time or have young children. Nearly half (49%) say they dine at casual restaurants because they’re too tired to cook, while 40% do so because they have no time to prepare a meal (this compares to 40% and 30% of all respondents, respectively).

But special occasions, food quality and socialisation remain top reasonsyounger adults go to restaurants.

“Restaurant usage is truly integrated into the lifestyles of adults under age 34. Many people value the fact that they can get quality food with minimal effort at a restaurant. As a bonus, they can spend that meal time with friends or family,” said Haack.