Exploring Generational Trends with Tipping at Restaurants


Raise your hand if you, like me, still frantically hover over the bill with a pen poised as you carefully evaluate your service wondering if 10% is too little or 20% too much. I gave up 18% calculations a long time ago.

It was, therefore, with much enthusiasm, I set out to review the results from a recent survey to understand if different generations approach tipping differently.

To a certain extent, generations do see eye to eye. Across the board, table service and food delivery orders made online or telephonically warrant frequent tips while pick-up and take-out orders are less likely to receive one.

A breakdown of when people tip in certain restaurant situations. All generations are most likely to tip for table service or when placing and or receiving a delivery order made by phone or online.

However, Boomers are the most tip friendly followed by Gen X and Millennials. Gen Z’s are less generous with tipping. They are over 2x more likely to never tip for deliveries over the phone or online in comparison to other generations. They are also astonishingly 7x more likely to never tip for table service than Boomers.

A generational breakdown of when people never tip.

A 2019 article in the Washington Post mentions Millennials and Gen Z’s, generations that love to dine out, are also less likely to tip as much as older diners. [1]

It would appear that tipping is on the out with young diners, whether in person or online, they are just less likely to tip than older generations. This could change as the younger generation obtain more income or attitudes change.

Gen Z makes the least distinction between table service, online, and phone when tipping. They appear to view the various services more homogeneously. In contrast, Boomers view table service more distinctly and are 2x more likely to tip for it than an online delivery.

Gen Z’s comfort levels with technology may explain why the type of service extended is not an indicator of change in behavior. Presumably, they see less difference between service that is and is not technology-enabled.

A generational breakdown of when people always tip in certain restaurant situations.

Technology that prompts consumers to tip has been in the news recently, highlighting changes in tipping requests. Preset gratuity amounts displayed on a touch screen make it simple for businesses to request tips in situations that might not ordinarily ask for tips, such as fast-food restaurants or even ice cream stores. [2]

So, will this cohort also succumb to the social pressure of the subtle payment screen prompt? Only time will tell.

For now, as I head out now to pick up my online ordered takeaway burger, I will resist the urge even when prompted for an 18% tip.


Methodology

The data presented are from a CARAVAN conducted by Big Village Insights among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,010 adults, 18 years of age and older. The survey was live from April 28th – April 30th, 2023.

[1] Tim Carman, “Chalk another one up to the generation gap: Millennials tip less and stress about it more,” Washington Post, 2019
[2] Nathaniel Meyersohn,“Customers now face a radically different tipping culture compared to a few years ago”, CNN Business, 2023



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