Michelin did a survey, and the results are in. The tire company/fine-dining star bestower* found that, when compared to all other age groups, millennials are willing to pay the most for a once-in-a-blue moon fine dining experience. The exact amount: $282. Compare this to the overall survey average of $203.
The poll, conducted this June by Harris Poll and sponsored by Michelin, surveyed 2,023 American adults about their dining preferences. And while those between the ages of 18 and 34 were found to be the biggest theoretical spenders, the 45 to 54 group said they would shell out $170 for a fancy meal. Those 65 and older came up last, willing to spend just $122 on a splurge-y dinner.
Cynthia Ochterbeck, Michelin’s U.S. editorial director for travel guides, addressed the findings. “We discovered across every demographic that American diners would be willing to pay a sizable sum to eat the best meal of their lives at a high-end restaurant. Perhaps this is the influence of around-the-clock food shows and celebrity chefs, but the fine food movement continues to see an extraordinary growth in popularity.”
As a millennial, I can attest to the findings. I would spend a lot of money for a great meal…and I have. When I visited Peru last November, I shelled out, relatively speaking, for a food tour of Lima, which started at a produce market and ended at a high-end restaurant overlooking a centuries-old adobe and clay pyramid. It still remains one of the most memorable experiences of the trip.
And perhaps travel and our millennial love of bucket lists has something to do with this willingness to spend on food experiences. As Parker Hilton wrote in his investigation of the changing American dream and wanderlust, “This quest for authentic existence also means that we’d rather participate in a local experience than sit off in a towering resort.” An authentic experience—at least, as I see it—can mean anything from eating at a food stand with the locals to experiencing a taste of the luxury life we can’t regularly afford, for just one night.
Here’s another good quote from Parker’s article that might explain our need for bucket list food experiences: “Eventually, [we’re] going to desire the smells and the flavors that technology can’t deliver (yet).”
I very much agree. We millennials spend an awful lot of time drooling over food pictures (like these) on social media. The next logical step is to go out and grab those flavors for ourselves. Because, yeah. I can read about this crazy gjetost stuff they make in Norway, but I won’t be completely satisfied until I experience it for myself, preferably at an authentic smörgåsbord. In Norway.
Off my soapbox, though, the survey did find some regional variation in the amount people were willing to pay for high-end dining experiences, with the biggest spenders located in the West. Their price was a whopping $352. Compare this to the Midwesterners’ $148, Southerners’ $149, and Northeasters’ $182.
Gender also played a factor, with men willing to spend more than women—$241, compared to $166, respectively.
*Ever wondered about the connection between Michelin’s tires and their fine-dining guides? The news release addressed it. “The company’s founders, brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin, created their first travel guide with dining and hotel recommendations in 1900 to promote early automobile travel and thereby sell more tires.” And now you know.