Are millennial views ‘killing’ the hospitality industry?

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From fabric softener to golf and even napkins, millennials have been given the blame for the decreasing popularity of many products and activities in recent years. But one of the industries that seems to be affected by millennials’ unruly trends is the hospitality industry. 

It is true that at some point, almost every publication has lashed out at the millennial generation for ‘killing’ something, but I tend to wonder how much truth there really is in any of these claims. This isn’t a new trend either, as two years ago I remember reading in the Independent about how  ‘cereal isn’t easy enough’ for millennials.  They said: “A large contingent of millennials are uninterested in breakfast cereal because eating it means using a bowl, and bowls don't clean themselves (or get tossed in the garbage). Bowls, kids these days groan, have to be cleaned.” It’s this kind of hyperbole that has always caused me to raise an eyebrow.  

The New York Times discusses why millennials have swapped cereal for grains, breakfast sandwiches and on-the-go breakfasts like yoghurts and smoothies. However, Business Insider also claims that millennials are ‘killing’ light yoghurt, they say: “Low fat-diets were the norm in the US in the '80s and '90s. As food makers worked to cut fat from products, they began replacing it with another ingredient: sugar. As a result, ‘light’ yoghurts were often packed with sugar, yet advertised as low-fat therefore healthy choices. 

“Now, the pendulum is swinging in the other direction. Health-conscious consumers are increasingly ditching the low-fat diets, thanks to the rise of ‘good fats’ and research linking sugar to weight gain.” Sorry Paddington Bear, but this clampdown on sugar is likely the reason why the Metro says marmalade is also decreasing in popularity amongst millennials too. 

When it comes to dining out trends, it is true that millennials are also shaking things up outside of the home. A recent article from Adweek shows that chains are struggling to compete, with millennials eating at home instead, and take away apps like Just Eat and Deliveroo are only feeding this trend, literally. 

But why are millennials not dining out as much? One of these reasons of course, is health. “It’s not that millennials are rejecting going out to eat altogether. But they are swaying toward healthier fare, which is bad news for many chains that thrive on all-you-can-eat offers and fried favourites,” says Cheat Sheet

But not all is lost, as a lot of chains are moving with this shift towards healthier dining. Many restaurants have jumped on the health bandwagon in recent years, offering low-calorie options, protein-rich dishes and more in order to please this new wave of health-driven diners. 

‘But isn’t this more expensive for money-conscious millennials?’ You might be thinking, and the answer is yes. But according to Cheat Sheet millennials are willing to fork out more, but only under the right circumstance. “It’s true that millennials prefer to spend less on food than baby boomers when it comes to eating out. But Forbes notes they are willing to spend more if the meal is healthy. The publication also notes millennials are willing to go out of their way to find healthy fare if the only places within sight are chains lacking good-for-you options.”

So, millennials certainly aren’t ditching ‘healthy’ food products like yoghurts, it seems they’ve just re-established what makes a product good for you and are ditching foods that don’t fit into that category. With updated views on sugar and fats, this change in attitude seems to be the catalyst in making millennials want to rule out unhealthy food options, as well as change their dining out habits to fit better with their new perception of health. Those restaurants that can offer a wide choice of healthy, natural options with creative dishes suitable for vegetarians and vegans look like the sure winners in keeping millennials on board.