You may have noticed that our kids are a totally different generation with different expectations when it comes to eating out. Some may still be driven solely by the toy at the bottom of the bag, but a growing number of these youngest diners are looking for more, and parents, health professionals and restaurateurs are tuning in.
In fact, recent research found that not only are children increasingly taking ownership of their choices at restaurants, but they are loyal to the restaurants and choices they really like:
Half of parents reported that children determined their own orders.
Taste was the most common reason for children's meal choices.
Most (76%) children reported visiting the restaurant previously.
So what are younger folks looking for in restaurants and menu choices?
Today’s kids are the first generation to be completely immersed in technology from birth. It’s not unusual for them to use smartphones, tablets, desktops – and often more than one at the same time. They consider technology an everyday essential (have you ever tried to take a phone or tablet away from your kids?). Restaurants are stepping up with entertainment, ordering, payment, personalization, allergens and nutrition tech to appeal to both young guests and their parents.
Like many of their parents, kids are increasingly focused on balance and how food, exercise, and other lifestyle choices impact overall health. They hear it on TV, in school and elsewhere, and it’s translating to more food choices that incorporate healthful, whole foods and support a healthy and active lifestyle. That doesn’t mean they’re willing to sacrifice flavor, as underlined by the recent research mentioned above.
Today’s world embraces customization and personalization, and our kids have grown up with that expectation. That carries over to eating out at restaurants. Kids want what they want and how they want it, and restaurants are reinventing menus to deliver – from single food-focused concepts with a variety of customization options to the reemergence of cafeteria-style restaurants to more mix-and-match and build-your-own options.
Are your kids driving more of the family’s restaurant decisions? How are you tapping into your kids’ expectations to help them make healthier choices away from home?
When your family heads out to eat, make the best choices the easy choices with Healthy Dining and Kids LiveWell picks like these at restaurants nationwide: