retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Columnist Frank Bruni of the New York Times - who used to be the paper’s restaurant critic, so he knows something about food - has a terrific piece about how people’s dining habits tend to evolve as they get older.

An excerpt:

“What you want from restaurants, it turns out, is a proxy for what you want from love and from life. None of these is constant. All reflect the arc that you’ve traveled, the peace that you have or haven’t made. When I was 34, I wanted bling, because it persuaded me that I was special. When I was 44, I wanted blinis, because they made me feel sophisticated. At 54, I just want martinis, because I’m certain of what’s in them and of what that potion can do: blunt the day and polish the night.

“I’m in good company, by which I mean that most people who are about my age or older don’t have the same relationships with restaurants that they did decades ago. I know because I’m always asking them, and what they say is familiar: They no longer sprint to the next shimmering frontier. They won’t suffer stools with no lumbar support. They keep their smartphone flashlights at the ready, in case the same dimness that’s such a kindness to wrinkles renders those letters on the menu — when did they get so tiny? — illegible.”

You can read the story here.
KC's View:
I loved this column, and every friend around my age to whom I sent it agreed - and we all find the trends that Bruni writes about to be highly recognizable. I do like familiarity, even when I’m on the road, and so while I try new foods and restaurants a lot - more than most people, I’d guess, just because of how I live much of my life on the road - I also like to have touchstones in a wide variety of places, comfort locations that serve comfort food.

And I have to wonder if there are some lessons here for retailers.

I’m not suggesting that retailers go for the vanilla, or the lowest common denominator. Far from it. But I do think that some need to think more creatively about how to market to people of a certain age. (Mine.)