With so many headlines buzzing around with claims that "Millennials are killing restaurant chain XYZ" and "Millennial Dining Trends are Changing How we Eat Out", you may be wondering...what the heck is going on with these Millennials? Who are they, and how does their market influence affect my restaurant business?
Well that's just it, market share! This generation is the largest US demographic, surpassing Baby Boomers in buying power. The savvy modern restaurateur will not only maintain an increasing awareness of them, they will target their marketing efforts to capture their share of the wallet. Comprised of people in their late teens to early 30s, Millennials were raised with cell phones and the Web, so they represent a marked turn in how a restaurant grows a loyal customer base.
Here are some key elements to a Millennial friendly marketing strategy for your restaurant:
Restaurants can’t underestimate technology when it comes to gaining Millennial market share. They use social and mobile media to get recommendations and make decisions about where they are going to dine. It's important to show you're digitally minded with tools like your website, social media channels, mobile apps, online ordering and email marketing.
Once you bring them in the door, technology is important too. Key operational components like a Point of Sale ensure that the ordering process goes smoothly and your customers (from any generation) have a great experience.
They may get a bad rap, but Millennials aren’t cheap. Instead, it's about creating value with a great product (that means those $5 carry out pizzas at the larger chains aren't appealing at all). They expect good quality food at reasonable prices, a departure from the super-sized, all-you-can-eat tactics that worked on previous generations. Freebies and giveaways are a good tool to use every now and then, especially in a loyalty program, but Millennials respond more to feeling like they are getting a good value.
A characteristic many Millinnials share is leading busy on-the-go lifestyles. The most recent key to convenience? It's not the drive-thru...it's Delivery. Pizza chains no longer dominate the delivery space as more and more restaurants jump to offer both in-house delivery via their mobile apps and online ordering, or third party services like UberEats. Whichever way you go, delivery is quickly becoming the rule rather than the exception.
Millennials greatly value friends’ opinions when making decisions, so consider spending less on new marketing and capitalizing more on your existing customer base. Fostering loyalty with a Millennial means you reach their friends, too. Make sure that you have an engaging online presence including social media, particularly Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. These channels are a main means to run promotions and foster interaction with your restaurant. Visiting a restaurant isn't just about the food, either. Millennials view dining out as a social event and a chance to connect with their friends.
When you're targeting communications to Millennials, focus on storytelling instead of statistics and a long stream of "Daily Specials". Your online platforms are a great opportunity to let your brand's personality shine through in a fun and informal way. When you're genuinely interested in a cause or conversation, it resonates much more than a sales pitch would. Ditching the "corporate speak" makes it easier for your audience to connect and engage with your business.
Whether you like it or not, Millennials are the future of your restaurant business. It's vital to onnect with them now if you're interested in a sustainable and efficient marketing strategy to grow your business.
Managing Millennials? Your internal Millennial staff can be excellent resources for ideas on creating and placing the right messages in the right place.
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