Yes, Millennials Dine Out a Lot. But They Use Coupons.

Study finds millennials devote 42% of food spending to restaurant meals

Author: Monica Melton

June 6, 2017

Millennials devote more of their food dollars to restaurant dining than any other age group, a new survey suggests. But the survey also found that millennials are likely to look for online coupons or other offers from restaurants, and to use the internet to find deals.

The study results seem to add a bit of evidence to two conflicting stereotypes about millennials—on the one hand, that they are high-spending group that dines out more than previous generations, and on the other that they are cautious about their spending and tend to pinch pennies.

Are millennials spendthrifts or are they thrifty? eMarketer analysts Yory Wurmser and Mark Dolliver debated the millennial mindstate in a recent episode of the "Behind the Numbers" podcast. Listen to the conversation.

The new study by Acosta, a CPG consultancy, found that millennials estimated their households spend $201.70 per month on restaurant meals, which works out to about 42% of their food spending. Restaurant spending includes delivery and takeout meals.

Gen X households also spent a fairly high portion of their food dollars on restaurant meals--$164.20 per month, or 35% of food spend.

The survey reflects the life stage of younger-generation households, which often have children. Households with children spend roughly 41% of their food dollars on restaurant meals, the study found.

But it also reflects consumers’—and especially millennials’—shifting tastes, with more people preferring to devote spending to experiences rather than possessions. Recent data suggest that consumers are looking to spend money on experiences rather than goods.

As for millennials’ tendency to hunt for bargains, the Acosta survey found that 51% of millennials said they look for coupons or offers online for restaurants, compared with 44% of Boomers. (Gen X respondents were even more likely to do so, at 57%.) In addition, 58% of millennials said they use the internet to “find the best restaurant deals,” compared with 47% for Gen X and 23% of boomers.

A variety of studies have highlighted millennials’ tendency to thrift. According to recent InMarket foot traffic rankings of brick-and-mortar stores, millennials show a distinct preference for discount chains--grocery chains in particular.