I recently stumbled across an infographic from Bon Appetit magazine that chronicled the millennial food obsession.
While I’d love to think this was a mere page filler poking fun at the generation under me, it definitely strikes a nerve when it comes to the changing times with food. While I’m sure the “spending 14 times more on food than the average American family” jab was a fictitious statistic, it nonetheless draws attention to the changing times.
I like to think of myself as a foodie, but not a gourmand… I’ve always felt that distinction was important. I love trying new restaurants, “discovering” up and coming chefs, and splurging on a high quality meal from time to time.
The millennial food obsession seems to take this to a level beyond.
I’ve watched with amusement as a table full of 20-somethings next to me at brunch spends several minutes styling the dishes on the table after they arrive, photographing dishes from several angles, then carefully selecting filters and hashtags as they post their food to Instagram. Or quickly post a blog dispatch about their restaurant visit.
#delish #obsessed #noms #brunch #artisanal
And only after they have all catalogued their food do they pick up forks and consider tasting what they have ordered. The eating itself is an afterthought… its the perception of consumption that seems to be the end game.
Packaging and plating become more important than the food itself. I’ve heard younger friends comment that they chose a restaurant based on the font choices for their menu. Or the clever names of the cocktails they serve. Or the design aesthetic for lighting. All aspects that seem to up the social media game where image is everything.
The travel industry is paying attention.
Make no mistake, the millennials are the new target audience. Whether it is the selection of craft vendors for an airline snack basket (gone are the Rold Gold pretzels replaced by gluten-free organic cookie bites or small-batch sea salt caramels) or new room service menus (where quinoa bowls are the new normal). Even stalwart industry brands are getting in on the act with Seabourn rolling out a craft cocktail program and many hotel properties (from Hyatt to Starwood and Marriott) rebranding their tired lobby restaurants as locavore destinations (complete with local microbrews, farm-to-table menus, and communal dining experiences as a room service replacement).
So perhaps the millennial food obsession benefits us all by forcing brands to rethink expectations. Just don’t fault me if I taste my food before I Instagram it… old habits die hard!