There’s been a stack of media reports on the demise of McDonald’s, not only in Australia but globally, too. Namely because the younger generations – the Ys and the Zs – are turning their noses up at it and pursuing less commercial, more hipster and more healthier options.
However, a new Roy Morgan study has found that not to be the case. The study found that the Zs and the Ys are still markedly more likely than older generations to visit most big-name quick service restaurants (Macca’s, KFC, Hungry Jacks). However, in many cases, their visitation rate is declining.
Between 2012 and 2016, the proportion of Australians visiting McDonald’s at least once in an average four weeks has declined from 31.2 per cent to 29.4 per cent. While this is due partly to the shrinking proportions of Generations Y (from 39.4 per cent to 35.3 per cent) and Z (from 40.3 per cent to 36.1 per cent) eating at or taking away from the hamburger giant, Gen X and the Boomers appear to be losing interest.
McDonalds’ rival Hungry Jacks remained steady, with the total proportion of Aussies visiting it shifting by a tiny amount (from 13.1 per cent to 12.7 per cent). While visitation by Gen X and Boomers slipped incrementally, Gen Y showed a more pronounced decline (from 19.2 per cent to 16.5 per cent). Gen Z customers, on the other hand, picked up (from 15.7 per cent to 16.8 per cent).
So if younger generations are seeking out less mainstream fast-food options, does this mean the more niche and gourmet-oriented burger chain Grill’d is attracting those young customers? Well, no, says Roy Morgan who says the data doesn’t bear this out. Grill’d has seen a slight year-on-year increase among Gen X visitors, but a noticeable drop among Gen Y (from 8 per cent to 5.4 per cent), and little change among Gen Z (8.3 per cent to 8.1per cent).
Tellingly, the proportion of Gen Ys who pay at least one visit to ‘other’ hamburger outlets in an average four weeks has grown from 4.7 per cent to 6.4 per cent, suggesting they could be frequenting smaller, hipsterised burger chains.
Just as McDonald’s is the king of burger joints, KFC rules the roost in the world of chicken. Between 2012 and 2016, the proportion of Aussies visiting the chain at least once in an average four weeks slipped slightly, from 20.4 per cent to 19.3 per cent. Like McDonalds, KFC’s popularity is strongest with Gens Y (23.9 per cent) and Z (26.2 per cent). Intriguingly, though there has been a decrease among Gen Y visitors to KFC since 2012, Gen Z are more likely to go there now than they were four years ago.
Generation Y (9.1 per cent ) also outstrips the older generations for visitation to Red Rooster; Gen Z (6 per cent), in contrast, is below average. Both generations seem to be moving away from the WA-founded chain, consistent with a broader decline in visitation from 8.5 per cent to seven per cent of Australians 14+ per month.
Then there are the smaller chicken chains Nando’s and Oporto, visited by 3.4 per cent and 2.6 per cent of Australians respectively in an average four weeks. Once again, Gen Y (5.8 per cent) and Z (6 per cent) far outstrip their elders for visitation to these smaller players, but have mainly declined since 2012. Unlike burger restaurants, there is no obvious shift towards ‘other’ hot chicken joints.
The rise of Domino’s Pizza is the key theme when it comes to the pizza segment of the quick service restaurant scene. Despite its mainstream status, Domino’s continues to draw the younger generations, with Gen Y up from 13.6 per cent to 15.3 per cent, and Gen Z up from 14.2 per cent to 18.5 per cent, a growth also seen across other generations.
Meanwhile, Crust Pizza and Pizza Capers, both much smaller and known for focusing on a much more ‘foodie-oriented’ product, have gained Gen Z customers over the past four years. The latter has also experienced a boost in Gen Y visitation, but at this stage, the figures pose no threat to the big guys.