New restaurant concept development often starts with the menu — and the menu dictates the consumer that will drive visits, which lets a restaurateur know where to put a new concept. 

Increasingly, preference for new flavors vary by generation, according to Technomic’s 2017 Flavor Consumer Trend Report. For example, Baby Boomers display a growing tendency to forgo new flavors, even as Millennials and GenXer’s continue to drive demand for unique flavors. This rings particularly true for spicy, bold and ethnic flavors, with Millennials twice as likely as Boomers to order ethnic foods at least once a week.

“The growing divide in flavor preferences between Millennials and Boomers heightens the need for a product mix that appropriately balances familiarity and innovation,” says Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights at Technomic. “Creating a small twist on classic recipes with flavors that particularly appeal to boomers, such as smoky flavors, can provide an element of uniqueness without going too far out of their comfort zone.”

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • Forty-two percent of consumers say they expect restaurants to offer signature flavors they can’t get elsewhere.
  • More 18- to 34-year-olds now (47 percent) than in 2015 (39 percent) say their preferences change with the seasons.
  • Forty-five percent of consumers say they crave bold flavors, up from 41 percent in 2015.