4 different generations with a 1000 different preferences

Where, when and what we eat depends on many different things. One person’s eating habits do not necessarily reflect those of their colleagues. Therefore, in order to deliver the best food, and the highest level of service, companies must recognise the many different preferences and eating habits of their guests, all of which have to be addressed.

Compass Group has taken up this challenge and the answer is: generation-specific food solutions!

Why is it about age, and who are generation B, X, Y, Z?

Have you ever wondered why your colleague always chooses something completely different from you at lunch? There is a good chance that this is because you belong to different generations. In other words, whether you belong to Generation B, X, Y, or Z can influence your food choices to a great extent. It can sound very stereotypical, but studies have shown, including Eurest’s white paper ‘The free-from food revolution’ that there is something to this. There is, for example, at significant difference in the number of vegetarians in Generation B and Generation Y. The number is in fact 12 times higher in the younger Generation Y.

So, who are these generations? Today we have four generations in the labour market: Generation B, also called the Baby Boomers (born in 1940-60), which is the oldest generation currently on the labour market, Generation X (born in 1961-1980) which make up most of today’s workforce. And then there’s Generation Y (born in 1981-95), which will soon be bigger than X and, finally, Generation Z (born in 1996-2010), who are only now about to enter the labour market.

Up until now the workforce has most often consisted of two, maybe three, generations. But because of low birth rates, which have led to small generations, and increasingly higher retirement age, we now have up to four generations working simultaneously in the same workplace.

This is why Compass Group is doing away with the idea of ‘one size fits all´ and looks at the individual generations needs to deliver the highest level of food solutions.

The reason why your kids eat at odd hours

Are the differences really that considerable between the generations one might be tempted to ask? And the simple answer is: yes – they are in fact.

This is the reason why Baby Boomers often does not understand why Generation Y ‘snacks’ all the time instead of just ‘eating a proper meal’.

The explanation for this is that the Baby Boomers grew up in a time, where they ate three hearty meals a day. Today however, we are constantly on the move. We have flexible working hours and some times even eat standing or walking, rather than sitting. The younger generations’ eating habits have adapted to this change of pace, which is why they often prefer many smaller meals accompanied by snacks throughout the day.

Gramma’s kitchen or healthy snacks?

Many Baby Boomers have already reached retirement age, but the generation still make up a considerable part of the workforce. So, when Generation B eats lunch in the same staff restaurant as their younger colleagues from Generation X, Y and Z, the numerous preferences of these generations should all be considered and reflected in the food being served.

By targeting and adapting food to the generations, Compass Groups many food craftsmen make sure that in addition to breakfast and lunch, there is also snacking available throughout the day, as Generation Y prefers it. There are familiar, healthy and well-known dishes which the Baby Boomers prefer. But also, the Instagram-friendly dishes with various add-ons, which Generation X prefers. Preferably made from sustainable ingredients and with meat from animals, who have lived a good life, if you ask Generation Z. Or even better: dishes based on plant-based proteins instead of meat.

More than just food

When it comes to the generations, the difference is not only apparent, when it comes to food. It also influences the guests’ expectations of their surroundings. Even here there is a difference between the generations, and Compass Group takes each aspect into consideration, from the interior decoration and layout of their restaurants to the way they communicate with their guests. So ensure happy employees in today’s workplace there is no ‘one-size-fit-all’, when dealing with upwards of four generations with a 1000 different preferences.