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Millennials are contrarians, but restaurant industry can't ignore them

LOS ANGELES, September 18, 2013 () – I can’t help but laugh at what they call the “millennial” generation. They take themselves so seriously, but half the time they don’t realize how contradictory their statements are when compared with their actions.

They love brands like Apple but hate anything that’s “too corporate.” They love communicating via Facebook but put down communicating via email, not even connecting the idea that one would never have existed without the other. And they praise themselves for being up to date on the latest news of the day, all the while watching “The Daily Show” as their primary news source.

I’ve come to the conclusion that people 28 and younger are absolutely clueless (I’m 34, by the way).

Millennials may be contrarians, but they can’t be ignored by the U.S. restaurant industry because they make up too big a portion of the customer base. According to a new survey by advertising agency BBDO Atlanta, 64% of U.S. millennials eat out at least once a week, and while 48% identified themselves as "foodies," 44% of those respondents said they eat fast food between one and four times a week, with McDonald's and Subway the most frequented quick-service locations.

Apparently, a Big Mac passes as gourmet for the nation’s younger generation.

What the data shows us is this: Millennials say one thing and do another. So forget what they say, just focus on what they do. Knowing millennials, they’ll probably slam you for offering something that they’ll end up buying anyway. That’s just how that generation is.

Let millennials take themselves too seriously. So long as they buy what you’re selling, let them believe that their smartphones are non-corporate.

Nevin Barich is the Food and Beverage Analyst for Industry Intelligence. He can be reached at nevin.barich@industryintel.com

Industry Intelligence will be hosting an exclusive and free i2live webinar entitled: "Marketing to Millennials" on December 4 at 11 a.m. PT/ 2 p.m. ET. Registration here

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