Customer Experience

The Different Types of Eaters and the Customer Experience

January 12, 2016

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The on-the-go, female, workaholic. The hobbyist. The low-price seeker. Who are these consumers? They are different types of eaters, and they tend to be Millennials, according to recent research.

As the foodservice industry evolves, consumer behavior progresses simultaneously. Depending the type of food and service you offer, you’ll attract different types of consumers.

There are seven types of eaters who make up the U.S. foodservice landscape, according to Technomic, a food-related research firm.

For restaurants, placing eaters into categories “helps [restaurant and eatery owners] understand and cater to consumers in a deeper way,” said Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights for Technomic. “As traditional demographics shift, making it harder and harder to use those as an indicator of consumer wants and needs, psychographic/attitudinal segments like these are increasingly important.”

Interesting trend

Millennials are in the top three “Eater Archetypes” in the U.S. Why is this important? Millennials make up 25 percent of the U.S. population. They feel a responsibility to share feedback on social media with companies after a positive or negative experience.

Millennials want to have a voice when it comes to “issues and products that affect daily life,” according to a report by Elite Daily, an online news source created for the Millennial. The Millennial generation is extremely educated compared to any other generation in history.

Even more, “Millennials don’t trust traditional media and advertising” before making a purchase, according to the report. Instead, they go to their friends, parents or online experts.

Millennials will be spending $1.4 trillion in the U.S. annually by the year 2020. That’s more than the total amount of student loan debt in the U.S.

Technomic’s research can help foodservice industry owners target specific types of consumers. To give you more insight into who your customers are or potentially will be, here are the “Seven Eater Archetypes (EAT) segments,” according to Technomic.

“Seven Eater Archetypes (EAT) segments”

1. Functional Eaters: These lower income eaters are mostly millennial males who search for low prices at restaurants. Functional eaters make up 20 percent of the population and 22.2 percent of their meals are consumed from a restaurant weekly.

2. Foodservice Hobbyists: These Millennial and Gen Xers with kids – usually female — consider going out to eat a pastime. When searching for a restaurant, they tend choose a mix of new restaurants and restaurants they are accustomed to.

Hobbyists are 19.7 percent of the population, and 20.6 percent of their meals come from a foodservice on a weekly basis.

3. Busy Balancers: Typically female Millennials and considered mid- to- upper income, these eaters think of foodservice as a way to make their lives simpler. They are considered the on-the-go, multi-tasker and make up 14.3 percent of the population and they eat 23.4 percent of their meals from a foodservice.

4. Affluent Socializers: For these guys, money is not an obstacle when dining out. Typically male, they go out to eat for entertainment purposes, and they love excellent service. Affluent socializers make up 13.9 percent of the population and 13.5 percent of their weekly meals come from a foodservice.

5. Bargain Hunters: Motivated by low prices, these baby boomers — typically male and low to mid income — look for deals without much concern for their health. They consist of 13.2 percent of the population and eat 10.1 percent of their meals out.

6. Health Enthusiasts: The only type of eater in the list that’s a mix of both male and female, these health enthusiasts believe in cooking at home. Health is their No. 1 priority, and they live simply. Typically baby boomers or an older generation, they live on a fixed or low income.

7. Habitual Matures: Almost 7 percent of the population, price and convenience motivate these typically male, baby boomers or older generation when making purchase decisions. This low or fixed income group is devoted to a small amount of restaurants, and they like their familiar foods.

The segment is based on consumer research — which was gathered over one and a half years — in combination with Technomic’s expertise.

“EAT segments get at consumers’ underlying needs and motivations, helping brands understand their customers at a deeper, more meaningful level that isn’t readily available on the surface,” said Sara Monnette, senior director of consumer insights and innovation at Technomic, in a press release.

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