hile evolving consumer expectations, the rise
of technology and shifts in how consumers use
restaurants continue to shape foodservice, one
thing will always remain imperative: ;avor.
Technomic recently released its ;fth biannual Flavor
Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite, which serves as
a guide to help foodservice operators and suppliers better
understand consumer attitudes and preferences toward
;avor. Among the foremost ;ndings: Taste and ;avor are as
important as ever, but signi;cant di;erences in the appeal
of certain ;avors are found by generational grouping.
Baby boomers show a growing tendency to forgo new
;avors, while millennials and Gen Xers continue to drive
demand for unique options. Di;ering attitudes ring particularly true for spicy, bold and ethnic ;avors, with millennials twice as likely as baby boomers to order ethnic
foods at least once a week. The discernable reticence
among boomers, which retains the largest spending
power among all demographic groups, may be due to the
proliferation of spicy fare and over-the-top ;avor combinations aimed at attracting their millennial counterparts.
Conversely, as younger consumers place a growing
emphasis on authenticity, innovative o;erings are reso-
nating more strongly. Younger consumers are especially
keen on knowing what new ;avors are on the menu prior
to visiting a restaurant. For instance, they are more likely
to seek out a speci;c ;avor pro;le, a trendy
dish or something they’ve seen advertised.
The growing divide in ;avor preferences
between millennials and boomers heightens
the need for a product mix that appropriately
balances familiarity and innovation. Creating a
small twist on classic recipes with ;avors that par-
ticularly appeal to boomers, such as smoky and
tangy ;avors, can provide an element of unique-
ness without going too far out of their comfort
zone. Operators and suppliers have more leeway to push
the boundaries with younger consumers.
But appealing to one group doesn’t have to mean alien-
ating others. For instance, following trends for whole-
some, better-for-you fare, fresh ingredients and natural
;avors can help maintain appeal across generations.
Among the key takeaways from the report:
• Forty-two percent of consumers expect restaurants to
o;er signature ;avors they can’t get elsewhere.
• More ;;- to ;;-year-olds now ;;;;; than in ;;;; ;;;;;
say their preferences change with the seasons.
• Forty-;ve percent of consumers say they crave bold ;avors, up from ;;; in ;;;;.
To that end, key areas of opportunity include:
Educating consumers on ethnic. Consumption of
ethnic food is limited by consumers’ unfamiliarity with
ingredients. However, an emerging foodie culture has
made consumers more interested in their food and more
willing to learn about new cuisines.
Balancing uniqueness and familiarity. Consumers
tend to be more willing to try new ;avors in foods they’re
already familiar with. To balance demands, operators can
leverage products such as ingredients and sauces from
known brands to increase consumers’ willingness to try
dishes featuring unusual ;avors.
Di;erentiating with signature sauces. As demand
for uniqueness grows, signature ;avors will be key: ;;;
percent of consumers and ;;; of ;;- to ;;-year-olds indicate high expectations to ;nd them on menus. Signature
sauces and ingredients can help impart di;erentiation and
drive purchases, especially among younger consumers.
Technomic’s latest learnings on the high-growth category
New Flavor Preferences
Vary by Generation
The newest trends and data to better understand consumers’
shifting behaviors and attitudes. By Kelly Weikel
Amount of consumers
restaurants to o;er
signature flavors they
can’t get elsewhere.