Millennials (born between 1980 and 1996) have recently eclipsed Boomers as America’s largest generation, numbering 83 million. But, will this younger generation provide the same level of personal spending for the economy? These two outsized generations came of age in vastly different worlds—and as a result are spending quite differently.
Millennials have grown up in the shadow of the Great Recession and are dealing with more significant higher education debt and housing costs. They are also getting squeezed in the job market, as more Boomers are staying in the workplace longer. And as consumers age, their spending increases, with peak earnings, spending and investing years falling between ages 35 and 55.
But one area of spending where Boomers sill rule might surprise some. Over the next 10 years (according to MRI research), 62 percent of all fast food restaurant visits will come from consumers over 50. While slumping brands are doing all they can to attract Millennials, they better not miss out on their biggest (and most profitable) opportunity.
Consumers over 50 are reinventing their “golden years.” They stay active, exercise and travel, all of which lead to a need for quick meals that fit into their busy schedules. They also enjoy their role as “enhanced grandparents,” attending sports games and school concerts—and are just as likely as parents to take the grandchildren and friends out to eat.
As a result, Boomers still account for 51 percent of all consumer spending, despite being passed in sheer size. And, it turns out, they just might represent the best opportunity to sell a carful of Happy Meals!