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Trend Watch: 90% of college students eat off campus once a week

7 out of 10 pieces of trash found in the ocean are food/beverage-related

Are college students the newest untapped demographic? According to research from Datassential, college students are eating off campus more often than before. Nearly half of college students surveyed in the research firm’s College & University keynote dine off campus every day, with 58% visiting a quick-service restaurant and 57% going to a coffee shop once a week or more often.

“Limited-service restaurants off campus get the highest marks for satisfying a craving for a specific type of food or even a specific dish,” Datassential researcher Mark Brandau said. “If I were the manager of one of those restaurants, I’d stress operational excellence so that those signature items are made quickly and right every time, because students will just go somewhere else that’s convenient if they have a bad experience.”

Brandau also stressed that coffee shops perform the best among college student demographics and that full-service restaurants — while not an everyday option for most on a student budget — offer a much-needed alternative to dining hall cuisine. 

Top 3 reasons why students will choose an off-campus meal:

  • The delicious food (28%)
  • Convenient location (27%)
  • Wanted a specific type of food (26%)

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Oceans are wining and dining on trash

According to nonprofit environmental advocacy group Ocean Conservancy’s annual ocean cleanup, seven out of the top 10 most common pieces of trash found in the ocean in 2018 came from the food and beverage industry, including food wrappers (#2), straws and stirrers (#3), cutlery (#4), plastic bottles (#5), plastic bottle caps (#6), plastic lids (#9), and plastic cups and plates (#10). The No. 1 trash item was cigarette butts.

Despite the global anti-plastic straw movement, plastic straws were actually more commonly found in the ocean during the 2018 cleanup than the 2017 cleanup when plastic straws were the seventh most common item picked up during the cleanup. This is also the first year that plastic cutlery has made the top 10 worst offenders list since 2013. 

71% of Millennials/Gen Z see moral causes as a reason to choose a brand

The key to attracting younger consumers may have more to do with what your restaurant represents, rather than the food it serves.

Younger generations (Millennial and Generation Z) are much more likely to make purchases for moral or ethical reasons, according to new data from member-based consumer research and strategic advisory company Collage Group.

Plus, they’re not just making brand loyalty decisions on the spot: 46% of Millennials surveyed said they research products before making a purchase.

“Younger generations have grown up in a more transparent environment,” David Wellisch, CEO and co-founder of Collage Group, said. “Compared to older generations, they have been exposed to much more

information about food: where food comes from, food quality, worker inequality, nutrition and health concerns behind certain ingredients, etc.”

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