A new study by Technomic unveils what millennials (ages 19-34) look for in their dining experiences.

According to the report, this demographic is generally confident, liberal, upbeat and open to change, and marketing to them can be a challenge.

The population tends to place value on attributes such as social responsibility, sustainability and local, organic, grass-fed, and hormone-free offerings. They foster emotional connections to brands and their loyalty stems beyond experience.

"Millennials visit restaurants more frequently than any other generation," said Darren Tristano, Technomic executive vice president. "Restaurant operators are making consistent efforts to track the purchasing habits of millennials and appeal to their unique need states. Success with today's millennial consumer will depend on making an emotional connection and setting expectations."

Technomic's new study, "Understanding the Foodservice Attitudes and Behaviors of Millennials," provides insights for suppliers and operators.

Additionally, Technomic's Consumer Restaurant Brand Metrics program provides chains with a scorecard to benchmark performance against their peers and track results over time. Among 50 dimensions evaluated by the program, millennials gave top marks to the following chains, by segment, on three valued attributes.

1. Social Responsibility: Acting in a way that is good for the environment, treating employees well.

  • In-N-Out Burger – QSR
  • McAlister's Deli – fast casual
  • Cracker Barrel Old Country Store – family-style
  • Logan's Roadhouse – casual dining

2. Food Quality: For millennials, food quality goes beyond taste and visual appeal to include the incorporation of sourcing elements such as grass-fed and free-range into their quality perception.

  • Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwich Shop – QSR
  • McAlister's Deli – fast casual
  • Cracker Barrel Old Country Store – family-style
  • Red Lobster – casual dining

3. Supports local community activities: Makes charitable contributions, supports community organizations.

  • Chik-fil-A – QSR
  • Corner Bakery Cafe – fast casual
  • Bob Evans – family-style
  • Bonefish Grill – casual dining

Read more about trends and statistics.

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