The Restaurant Industry Exploits Millennials According to TVO's Corey Mintz

In a five-part series, TVO’s Corey Mintz shares his current gripes about the restaurant industry. In this piece, he explores how the industry is preying on millennial diners. Check out the full article at TVO. 

At a Restaurants Canada conference, Chris Elliot, who is presenting Restaurants Canada’s 2018 research says to food reporter Corey Mintz and a room of restaurant owners and marketers, “The pie is not growing here. The only way to grow your market share is to steal market share from someone else.”

Mintz and the rest of the attendees already know this. Foodservice sales in Canada have increased 31 percent in the past 10 years but that growth is slowing.  

Elliot goes on to say that he expects that rising interest rates will increase household debt, resulting in less discretionary spending. And while gross revenue has increased, so have costs: bottom-line profits have remained at 4.2 percent for the past three years.

Mintz went to this conference for insights into how the restaurant industry views millennials, and his next realizations give him just this.

“Canadians eat out more and more,” says Elliot, getting back to the net-positive message. “We’re seeing that people don’t have time to cook, they don’t want to cook, and” — he grins ear to ear — “they don’t know how to cook.”

As Elliot carries on, telling the room that 36 percent of millennials can’t make spaghetti and 24 percent can’t cook broccoli, Mintz wonders whether he has imagined Elliot’s cheerfulness because “surely he can’t be openly gleeful that young Canadians make good customers because they lack basic life skills.”

But he hasn’t.

“A lot of them don’t know how to cook,” Elliot reiterates, flashing that smile again. “So: food service to the rescue.”

Materials distributed to Mintz echo the message: “With many millennials renting versus owning, an increase in disposable income has many households turning to foodservice for both indulgence and convenience.”

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Mintz’s Translation: our real-estate market has priced young people out of any hope of owning, so with no future to save for, they’re spending their money at restaurants.

Mintz’s final words on his experience:

“When that restaurant-sponsored ad pops up in your Instagram feed, it’s because Facebook is selling your data to advertisers — not just because marketers have determined that millennials and centennials value the convenience of delivery and mobile payment (and of not having to cook), but also because they know you’ve been failed by the education system and failed by the economy. And when you feel miserable about your prospects, when you’re overcome by a gnawing sense that you will never enjoy the economic stability your parents’ generation did, they see an opportunity to sell you a Cheddar Supreme pizza.

To get the full experience and to continue reading Mintz’s 5 part series, visit TVO.