What Millennials & Gen Z Really Eat, In 5 Stats

What are young consumers eating in a typical week? We looked beyond food trends to find out about their actual eating habits, from the meals they’re missing to the food they really want.

We’ve talked about the food trends Millennials are interested in, and how food is a passion for both generations, but the reality of young consumers’ day-to-day dining isn’t all food trucks and rainbow smoothie bowls. Though social media has made food a pop culture phenomenon, it’s of course also a series of daily decisions, plates grabbed on the go, meals cooked after work or leftovers eaten at desks, and at school. The majority of the food they buy and eat isn’t a glamorous Instagram shot—so beyond the trends and foodie interests, we continue to keep tabs on what Millennials and Gen Z really eat. (Including their favorite food brands, which include some college dorm staples.) Our most recent cooking and food trends survey included questions on the meals they have regularly and the foods they’re having on a typical day. Here are five stats from that research to give you some clues about how young consumers really eat today:

1. Only a quarter of Millennials & Gen Z eat three meals a day.

Three square meals a day is not a reality for the majority of young consumers, with our data showing that only 25% of 13-34-year-olds are eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a typical weekday. Males 13-34-years-old were far more likely than females to say they eat all three. The most popular meal among all groups is dinner, and breakfast is the least, with less than three quarters saying it’s a typical weekday meal for them. Interestingly, on the weekend, the number who eat lunch and breakfast actually drop while consumption of nighttime snacks, dessert, and brunch increase. 

2. Three in four Millennials & Gen Z…

 
 

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“I eat [Pizza Hut] least two times per month; it's one of my favorite places to go to eat pizza.”—Male, 35, VA

More Millennials are asking for cash wedding registries, and it’s bad news for stores like Bed Bath & Beyond and Williams Sonoma. Increasingly, young couples are asking guests to contribute towards their nest egg, travel, or anything they feel like buying themselves. Companies like Zola and Honeypot have boomed in popularity, offering a personalized platform for their cash registries. However, their success with wedding registries is taking “a key customer acquisition tool” away from home décor stores. (Insider)

The beauty industry is catering to Customization Nation, as more companies crop up to blend unique beauty products for each customer. But can the trend scale? Truly personalized products, like the ones offered by hair care start-up Function of Beauty and makeup company Bite Beauty, take time and resources. But companies that offer base products with just a personalized element or two could be the future of the industry. And big-name brands are getting their feet wet too: Lancôme and CoverGirl have both offered custom-made foundations. (Glossy)

Nordstrom is taking risks to survive retail’s big shifts. Instead of shuttering stores, they’re opening experimental retail locations, revamping their department stores, and making their mark in Manhattan with their first store openings. The long-standing brand also bought ecommerce site HauteLook and the subscription service Trunk Club. So far, their risk-taking hasn’t proved to be a boon to their bottom line—but only time will tell. (WSJ)

Hollister is teaming up with AwesomenessTV to reach Gen Z with a YouTube series. “The Carpe Life” will be a part of a broader campaign, which includes influencer marketingand appeals to young consumers’ love for active, adventurous lifestyles. "The Carpe Life" follows Hollister's first YouTube series, “This is Summer” which “boosted key brand metrics by double digits,” adding on to their overall positive impact on Abercrombie & Fitch’s rising bottom line. (Marketing Dive)

Netflix is switching its strategy, putting less money into “prestige films” for the Post-TV Gen. Instead, they’re churning out more direct-to-video releases. Last year, they bought ten titles at Sundance while this year they had none. While they continue to create original content like the recent The Cloverfield Paradox, they’re betting on less-than-award-worthy films to maintain their hold on Millennial viewers. (The Atlantic)

“Basically if I found out any brand was supporting causes I do not support and actively oppose, I will avoid buying their products.”—Female, 27, CA

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