Research recently conducted for Technomic’s Lunch Consumer Trend Report sheds interesting light on purchasing behavior, motivations and attitudes with regard to the mid-day meal. The heaviest users of foodservice during lunch are Millennials (ages 18-34), and they are also the most likely to frequently use value items as a way to build meals. Surprisingly, even though older consumers are most likely to be driven by value, they are not as likely to see the value menu as a viable lunch option.

“Baby Boomers are motivated heavily by value, but other significant motivations include health and quality of food,” says Technomic Director of Consumer Research Sara Monnette. “The most health-conscious consumers skew 45 and older, so their value equation is different than that of a younger person who sees value primarily as a price issue. Older consumers are less likely to perceive value in dollar menu items because of the broader context of their motivations.”

To help operators and others aligned with the foodservice industry more effectively identify opportunities for growth and competitive advantage, Technomic developed the Lunch Consumer Trend Report.
Select findings include:

During the week, consumers say that fast, portable and inexpensive lunch options are top priorities at restaurants and other foodservice locations. On the weekend, however, these lunch-time preferences shift, and consumers pay more attention to customization and a fresh preparation than other attributes.

Despite saying they have been increasingly bringing lunches from home during the week, more than one in three (35 percent) surveyed consumers still purchase lunch from a restaurant or other foodservice location at least twice a week, and roughly one-third of all lunch occasions include food from restaurants or other foodservice operations.

More than half of all consumers indicate they skip lunch at least once a week, and about two-thirds say they replace lunch with a snack at least once a week. Operators can likely appeal to consumers who frequently replace lunch with snacks by offering a greater selection of smaller-portioned and better-for-you options.

Almost half (47 percent) of consumers say they primarily visit the same few familiar restaurants at lunch. However, even though they might stick to a relatively small number of restaurants, two out of five still say they eat a wide variety of foods for lunch, so variety and customization options remain important.