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The Modern Consumer: Understanding Tomorrow’s Tastemakers Today - 2017

This Y-Pulse® (ypulse.org) study examined dining experiences of millennial consumers (18-34 year olds) to dig deep into what drives the same consumer to very different types of food experiences outside the home.

To craft the survey, the Y-Pulse team engaged with foodservice experts who regularly participate in trends surveys, but also included creative experts who work in important lifestyle industries such as fashion, architecture and fine arts. What emerged from this inquiry was an understanding of the importance of food experiences away from home and the influence of foodie culture among modern consumer lifestyles.

Read this study to learn more about:

  • Why millennials enjoy attending food focused events and how these reasons have lead to the rise in food halls and food emporiums
  • The ways in which foodservice operators should target nostalgia and sophisticated tasting adventures to achieve unforgettable experiences that modern consumers desire
  • The importance of food trust and sourcing local ingredients for millennial consumers

Dividing the Millennial Generation: Snacking Behavior by Age and Lifestyle - 2014

Y-Pulse® (ypulse.org) and The Culinary Visions® Panel collaborated to conduct a survey with over 1,000 consumers to better understand how consumers in different age groups and life stages approach food choices and the factors that drive their purchase decisions.

The focus of the study was on snacking behavior because younger consumers in particular eat more small meals or snacks throughout the day rather than traditional meals favored by their parents and grandparents. Overall, Millennial consumers do not care as much about defining an eating experience as a meal or snack as they do about satisfying their need to eat what they want, when and where they choose to eat it.

The Millennial generation includes consumers born between 1977 and 1992 who are 19 to 36 years old today. This study took a closer look at younger Millennials, ages 19-25, middle Millennials, ages 26-30 and older Millennials, ages 31-36. An understanding of different age groups and their lifestyles is important to understanding the factors that influence their food decisions away from home. Young consumers who are still finishing college and living at home behave differently than those in transition to their own financial independence or those who are heads of their own households with young children.

Read this study to learn more about:

  • What characteristics influence snack choices for day time snacks and night time snacks
  • How snack choice differ for Millennials living with roommates from those living alone or with their families
  • How much Millennial consumers in different age and lifestyle groups are willing to pay for snack foods they consider high in value
  • How Millennials feel about service that is enhanced by technology
  • Different perceptions Millennials have about snack they buy on campus versus those they purchase from other foodservice venues

Away From Home Dining Choices of Tomorrow’s Tastemakers – presented at The Flavor Experience Conference, Newport Beach, California August 2013

Y-Pulse surveyed young consumers, 8-13 years old, about what motivates them to make the decisions they make regarding their food and beverage choices away from home. This study also includes a review of what’s on the menu at the top chains and how those choices connect with what kids really want. They might be young but they are restaurant savvy, more educated than any previous generation on nutrition, and are very involved in their family’s decisions to dine out.

This Y-Pulse survey of 500 boys and girls ages 8 to 13 throughout the U.S. provides kids’ perspectives about their favorite places to eat and their favorites foods, including:

  • Which away from home venues are kid favorites and why – quick service restaurants, casual dining chains or independents, convenience stores, shopping mall food courts and school cafeterias
  • How kids define quality when assessing away from home choices
  • How kids of different ages feel about ordering from the kids’ menu

Wellness On Campus – presented at National Association of College & University Food Services Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota July 2013

Full time college students throughout the country were surveyed to gain their perspectives on campus wellness programs. Consumer surveys were compared with input from leading foodservice directors, chefs and registered dietitians working on college campuses. An in-depth review of consumer insight from social media sources was conducted in tandem with the original research to identify leading campus wellness programs around the country.

200 full time college students were surveyed about their perspectives on wellness program offerings on their campuses. Read this study to understand more about:

  • Importance of Wellness Programs on Campus
  • How important is foodservice relative to other aspects of campus life that contribute to wellness
  • Where does wellness rank in the lists of concerns students have related to their current lifestyle
  • Perspective on what students would like to see on their campus to enhance their health and well being

The Food and Flavor Desires of Tomorrow’s Tastemakers – presented at Culinary Institute of America, Healthy Flavors Healthy Kids Conference, San Antonio, Texas May 2013

This is the third in a series of studies started in 2006 that explores how kids feel about dining at home, in quick service and table service restaurants, schools, convenience stores and shopping mall food courts. Kids know what they like and are quick to provide feedback about why they like their favorite venues and their ideas to improve the food experience at these venues.

The meals that score highest with kids today are similar to those from the original studies: pizza, chicken, pasta and sandwiches. Yet today, kids are ordering a wide range of ethnic variations on chicken and saying they are eating salads more often at school.

Y-Pulse conducted a survey of 500 boys and girls ages 8 to 13 throughout the U.S. to learn more about their favorite places to eat and their favorites foods. This study provides information such as:

  • Which away from home venues are kid favorites and why
  • What are kids’ favorite foods at home and away from home
  • What’s changing in school lunch

College Mega Trends - March 2011

Foodservice manufacturers who serve the college and university market were surveyed to gain their perspectives on trends they see on college campuses across the country.

Read this study to gain insight on the four mega trends indentified for 2011:

  • Global Flavors — More than 50% of food manufacturers are introducing new products that relate to global flavors while 46% are developing new ethnic-inspired recipes for their operator customers
  • Nutrition — Manufacturers are steadily providing more enhanced nutritional statements to their operator customers
  • Food Democracy — Sustainability is the primary Food Ethics trend in colleges today
  • Food Ethics — Knowing campus students on each campus is key to understanding the value of price versus ethical standards

Millennials' Dining Preferences - December 2010

If there is one thing that can be said for certain regarding the dining preferences of Millennials, it's that they know what they want and they know when they want it. And if you thought that the most important factor in selecting where to eat was whether or not they have a "fourth meal," think again.

Y-Pulse conducted a survey of Millennials (16-33 year olds) to assess the factors involved in deciding where to eat when eating/ordering out. Read this study to uncover:

  • Which service factors matter the most to this age group
  • Which menu factors Millennials look for when deciding where to eat
  • How they learn about new restaurants to try

Kids Dining Preferences - October 2010

Who knew that tweens crave sushi? Or that it may not be so hard, after all, to get kids to eat healthy? If school foodservice professionals didn't know such surprising palate pleasers before, they do now.

In a recent survey of nearly 1,800 youngsters between the ages of 5 and 15 from across the nation, kids gave insight on their favorite foods and flavors. Read this study to find out:

  • Which globally inspired foods are on their list of favorites
  • The importance of fresh and healthy foods
  • What students would do to improve their school cafeterias

Social Media: What's Next? - July 2010

Foodservice operators may be ahead of the curve when it comes to using social media to get information about their menus and operations out to students. But they may need to wait for the students to catch up, or make sure they get the word out that they are using social media tools and what those tools are.

In a recent Y-Pulse survey of nearly 300 students and 20 leading college and university foodservice operators, respondents shared their perspectives and insights on how they're using social media. Read this study to explore:

  • The types of information students want to receive about the food and beverage offerings from different college and university foodservice venues
  • Which social media platforms students are using the most and which students are using the least to get information
  • Which social media platforms foodservice operators are using the most

A Slice of the Youth Market - July 2008

Kids these days are as unpredictable as the weather. They are interested in one activity one second, and going in the complete opposite direction a minute later. If you want to capture their attention for longer than five minutes, you've got your work cut out for you. That is, if you don't happen to have a warm, fresh baked pizza on hand. Pizza has always been a winner among kids, but it's not the same old cheese and pepperoni-topped quick meal it used to be. Kids' appetites are evolving and maturing. They are open to trying new toppings that most people would never consider putting on top of a pizza. And they're not just eating pizza at home during game night with their parents; they're ordering them at restaurants and grabbing slices in the lunch line of their cafeterias. Read this study to identify:

  • The ever-growing list of unconventional toppings kids are trying
  • The most important factor when it comes to pizza toppings
  • The more nutritious pizza styles kids are requesting

Kids Eating Behavior at School - September 2006

As far as kids' thoughts on eating lunch at school are concerned, there are some days when sandwiches and frozen meals just do not cut it. Though most kids prefer to eat lunch at home or in a sit down restaurant on school days, the cafeteria does offer some popular choices. Regardless of whether it comes in a brown bag or on a tray, there are consistent trends that stick out when it comes to kids' lunches at school.

A survey was conducted to to learn more about how they choose what to eat at school. Read this study and discover:

  • What kids really want in their bag lunches
  • The items kids love and the items they would not miss
  • How bag lunches are being supplemented in school cafeterias

Kids' Meals at Home - September 2006

It is no surprise that kids have a surplus of energy because unlike most adults, the majority of kids eat breakfast every day. Though their perceptions of what foods are healthy may be false, they tend to get closer to the recommended number of servings from each food group than teens and young adults. While favorite foods vary from kid to kid, breakfast time and after school snacks are the favored meal times.

More than 300 students from eight states were questioned about their eating habits at home. Read this study to find out:

  • How often and which kind of vegetables are consumed the most at home
  • Which foods kids are racing home from school to snack on
  • Which beverages kids prefer to drink at home

Restaurant Eating Behavior - September 2006

Eating out at restaurants is a large part of American culture. It is not uncommon to see infants in high chairs sitting at tables with their families enjoying meals. Parents have control over what is being ordered, but the ultimate decision belongs to the kids. Although kids enjoy the food on kids' menus, they favor the choices on the adult menus.

A study of 350 kids ages 8-11 was conducted to understand their choices and behaviors when dining out. This study identifies:

  • The foods kids are craving in restaurants
  • How often kids eat out
  • How restaurant preferences change as kids mature

Kids' Eating Habits - September 2006

Kids may not know exactly what kinds of food make up a healthy and balanced diet, but they know what they like. The meals that score high with kids today are pizza, spaghetti, chicken, and sandwiches. Most kids do not do their own grocery shopping or prepare their own meals, but they do have an interest in what they eat and how it affects them. While taste and convenience play a role in kids' eating behavior, they are also concerned with the nutritional value and ingredients.

Y-Pulse conducted a survey of 400 kids in grades 3-5 to learn more about their eating habits. This study provides information such as:

  • The snack foods kids are craving
  • The amount of exposure kids have to ethnic foods
  • How important food labels are to kids and which nutritional elements stand out

Convenience Retail That Captures Generation Next - July 2006

All college and university students have one thing in common-they are always on the move. When it comes to convenience stores, they need something that is easy to get to, that they can get in and out of quickly, and that carries what they want when they want it. While convenience is a major factor that drives college and university students' purchasing decisions, quality and taste are also thoughts that are at the top of these consumers' minds.

A survey was fielded to 171 college and university students which posed questions about convenience retail stores. This study explains:

  • How often students shop at convenience locations
  • The attributes that grab students' attention and bring them in
  • Which items students are purchasing the most-and how often

Young Consumer Perspectives on Retail and Foodservice Venues - June 2006

Having a comprehensive understanding of what influences young adults' purchases is what makes certain stores successful and their consumers loyal. Convenience foodservice venues offer unique products in a way that directly meets the needs of their target customers. While impulse drives the majority of young adults' purchases, convenience stores that are clean, safe, and open late greatly appeal to young consumers.

264 young adults ranging in ages from 18-25 were surveyed in regards to what affects their purchasing decisions the most. The qualitative feedback obtained has created a better understanding of their ideal convenience foodservice settings. Read this study to discover:

  • Which is more important in quick service restaurants: price or "super size" options
  • What motivates young adults to cook at home
  • When men and women ages 18-25 do the majority of their grocery shopping
  • The main purchase drivers for consumers in convenience retail settings

College Student Eating Habits Survey - October 2005

Most would assume that the college students' eating habits revolve around two things; price and convenience. While these two factors play a major role in meal and purchasing decisions, some report making decisions based on health factors. While nutrition and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is becoming increasingly more important to some students, food that is quick, cheap, and tastes good will always be a favorite. Some of today's college and university students are gaining awareness and responsibility for their eating behaviors while others are just gaining the "freshman 15."

A survey of 175 students ranging in ages from 18-25 was fielded to determine what influences them the most when deciding what to eat. This study reports:

  • The truth about college students' thoughts on exercise
  • The importance of price and how it affects students' choices on where they purchase
  • Healthier meal options students are choosing

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P: 312-280-9061
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Y-Pulse is a subsidiary of
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For insight beyond younger consumers visit
the Culinary Visions Panel website.