Menu Language for Gen X

Use the buzzwords that resonate with this demographic.
Large sandwich

Gen X and the menu

Although the Generation X demographic is smaller than boomers and the millennials, consider its position. Gen Xers, born between 1966 and 1976, are in their prime moneymaking years. Studies show they worry less about finances when dining out than any other generation. Another reason to draw them in is that they are typically the parents of Gen Z, choosing dining out spots for this up-and-coming generation. Additionally, Gen X boasts an impressive purchasing power of $125 billion. Enticing this group of diners into your restaurant makes good business sense. Apart from luring them in with dishes they yearn for, using menu language that connects to their values and flavor preferences is a smart strategy.

Culinary cues

Technomic reports that Gen Xers are somewhat adventurous. They look for familiar foods with creative twists. Global mash-ups play well with Gen Xers, as those dishes often deftly straddle that line between familiar and adventure. Go with beloved formats, like tacos, burgers, pizzas, or sandwiches, then get creative with the builds. Use menu language that conveys a taste of adventure, like “Sriracha-honey glazed” or “chimichurri-spiked mayonnaise.”

Premium cues resonate more with Gen X than any other generation, including millennials, according to Technomic Inc. Use menu language to express those close-held values. The challenge is relating “premium” without calling out that word, which can sound elitist. Premium attributes for Gen X signal culinary artistry and quality products, so look to words like “hand-torn,” “house pickled,” “made in house,” and “hand-tossed.” Use menu buzzwords that highlight back-of-house technique and attention to detail. Examples here include “24-hour brine,” “hand-torn,” and “cider braised.”

Culinary cues also apply to the beverage side of the menu. Use words that express care and attention. Examples here include: “freshly squeezed,” “hand-mixed,” “house-infused,” “artisan made,” and “hand cut.”

Sustainability counts

Much like millennials, Gen Xers look for evidence of honesty and integrity on the menu. They want to see a palpable link between your restaurant and community—both local and global. Provenance, that sense of place, can help express those values. Menu buzzwords like “local” and “organic” are good starting points, but maybe go further by calling out local purveyors and farmers. For instance, honey is on trend as an all natural sweetener, but add “local” as descriptor and now you have a premium indicator. If you’re sourcing sustainably, use buzz words that resonate with this generation, such as: “wild caught,” “grass fed,” and “rope-grown mussels.”

Also, make sure your menu works hard for you in communicating any sustainability initiatives. Using recycled paper products? Print it on the menu. Composting? Recycling? Take credit for these efforts and share them on your menu. 

Gen X is a diner demographic worth going after. With a compelling narrative expressed on your best marketing tool, your menu, you can make emotional connections, inviting repeat visits. 

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