Millennials: How influential are they in GCC F&B?

Sanjay Murthy on how Generation Y are affecting the F&B industry
FOOD & BEVERAGE, Opinion, Columnists, Comment & Analysis, GCC, GCC hotels, Influential, Millennials

Millennials, (Generation Y), are described as individuals born between 1980 & 2000, they’ve lived through a time of rapid change, instilling priorities and expectations vastly different to that of previous generations. They are one of the largest generations in history, demanding, influential, and increasingly affluent.

Understanding millennials is key to engaging with them, they’ve grown up online and are known for their digital aptitude, attitudes, expectations and behaviour. Although a global generation, regional differences do exist, especially in the GCC where the Millennial and Gen Z population combined equates to approximately half of the population.


GCC millennials tend to be higher spenders and their behaviours are also different.According to a recent PWC survey, GCC millennials are more likely to use digital currency than the global average and 81% consider themselves at the forefront of technology.

As ‘digital natives’, their consumer habits are focused online. The millennials’ affinity for, and extensive knowledge of, technology has shaped how they shop. Instant gratification and readily available information, trustworthy reviews and price comparisons have become the norm.

When they’re not online they’re looking for the ‘experience’, and their sociable world has even affected the most traditional of businesses, forcing a change in how we buy and sell, creating a new ‘sharing economy’ (think RelayRides, SnapGoods and Airbnb).

What’s on the horizon? Meal kits and home delivery have turned into billion dollar industries and these fierce changes brought about by the millennial set won’t stop anytime soon. They are highly influential but also influenced consumers that favour differentiated concepts that stand out and embrace originality.

Whatever the future holds, personalisation and customisation will strengthen as the up and coming Gen Z continue the food revolution millennials have started.

Online since infancy this generation processes information at an even faster rate, and so have significantly decreased attention spans. Soon it won’t be about how brands attract loyal customers but instead how brands can be loyal to the customer.

For example, online ads are almost certain to be replaced by other means of communication as just 59% of Gen Z kids will click on ads (compared to 71% of millennials).

Investing in technology and developing brands that are engaging and experiential is a savvy business move – not only will you attract the millennials but also be ready for Generation Z, who, while not a major spending powerhouse yet, are fast approaching maturity (and considering they haven’t lived through the recession, unlike the millennials, are expected to be even bigger spenders).

Ultimately, maybe it’s not about the differences but the similarities. Thanks to the connectivity of technology, diversity is key and youth have more in common with their global peers than they do with adults in their own country. Influencers can be found everywhere — from the paid YouTube stars to your neighbour — and while it’s important to continue marketing to millennials, be prepared for the upcoming switch when Gen Z are in charge!

Sanjay Murthy is the co-founder of Figjam Hospitality. Visit for details.

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