I just read an article called, Customers in Their 20s and 30s Are Defecting to Fast-Casual Restaurants Like Chipotle, Five Guys.
First of all, people in their 20s and 30s are part of three cohorts.
- People in their mid-to-late 30s are late GenXers and Carter Babies.
- The definition of “millennial” changes every time someone wants to make a point.
- People in their very early 20s are really not Millennials, but more like the early-stage Generation Z kids.
But I don’t want to talk about lazy generational stereotypes. I want to talk about the growing trend away from McDonalds and Burger King. There are many lessons for people who want to think about trends and brand.
Here’s what I think is happening in our culture.
- Michelle Obama is right. Science is science. Fast food is incredibly unhealthy and addictive.
- The brands are tainted. Although revenue is strong, nobody is proud to say that they feed their kids McDonalds or BK.
- Fast casual appeals to our aesthetic sensibilities. Panera stores and food options look healthier — even if it that’s not the case. Chipotle tells a great story and has convinced you that their supply chain is less cruel, even though those cows and pigs still die brutal deaths for your fat ass.
- Fast food is associated with being poor. Most people in their 20s and 30s and making some cash, and McDonalds and BK are associated with having no money. What makes things worse is that McDonalds and BK have capitalized on food deserts and have opened stores where poor people don’t have access to fresh produce. Who feels good about that? It reminds me of the growth strategies employed by Coca Cola and Philip Morris: instead of offering a better product, they sell their wares to poor people across Africa, Brazil, Russia, India and China.
I like fast casual restaurants like the next person — and I avoid fast food restaurants like the plague — but I just hope consumers in their 20s and 30s know that the difference between Five Guys and McDonalds is nothing more than branding.
Cows, pigs and chickens live in tough conditions and die at the hands of cheap laborers who also, coincidentally, live in tough conditions. Companies still struggle to pay a living wage to the prep cook, the fry person, the runner, the cashier and the presenter. And management teams still struggle with leadership issues.
So unless you churn your butter by hand and grow your own food like an FLDS woman in braids, it’s all about branding.
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