Millennials are lying about what they want to eat and it's causing huge problems for McDonald's and Pizza Hut
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The 20 and 30-somethings claim they care about things like food quality, customization, and ethics that traditional fast food and chain restaurants can't offer.
Companies want to attract young customers in hopes they will become lifelong patrons.
To appeal to millennials, McDonald's overloaded its menu with premium smoothies, gourmet sandwiches, and creative salads.
Pizza Hut added a variety of customizable options like fresh spinach and Sriracha drizzles. And Olive Garden released a tapas menu of gourmet-style small plates that would attract the foodie generation.
All of these efforts flopped, and there's an important reason why: millennials are lying about their food habits.
Millennials say they want food that is high quality, free of additives, and sustainable, but they aren't always willing or able to pay for it.
Young people are underemployed and more likely to be working multiple jobs to pay off student-loan debt.
Strapped for time and cash, cheeseburgers off the dollar menu are a necessity.
Since this discovery, many restaurant chains have started focusing on value instead of gourmet quality.
McDonald's scaled back on its customizable burger program after complaints of steep prices and long wait times. Pizza Hut is focusing on offering more deals on its traditional pizzas. And Olive Garden is focusing on offering inexpensive lunch and dinner options.
McDonald's is still the most visited restaurant for the younger demographic, according to analysts at Morgan Stanley.
Chipotle is the first fast-casual chain to appear on the list, coming in 11th place.
So while millennials might not agree with the processed food at traditional restaurant chains, the affordability and convenience are too good to pass up.