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Marketing Your Restaurant to the Millennial Generation

Marketing Your Restaurant to the Millennial Generation

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are the biggest generation since the Baby Boomers. Depending on what source you use, they are loosely defined as anyone born between 1977 and 1992 (Source). It is an extremely diverse group and is made up of between 50 and 90 million individuals. No matter how you slice it, it is a group with enormous buying power that restaurants would be wise not to ignore.

Although Millennials have been hit hardest by the economic recession, with a higher unemployment rate than the rest of the country, they are also the generation that eats out the most and spends the most in restaurants. Whatever the reason for this is (they’re bad at math?), Millennials purchase 36 percent of their meals away from home, while Generation X purchases 31 percent and Baby Boomers only 26 percent (Source).  

So, how do you get these big spenders to patronize your restaurant more often? Aside from giving away food from free, there are a few basic demographic considerations to keep in mind.

They are ethnically and racially diverse.

Millennials are already the most diverse generation in American history, with 41 percent falling into the minority category (Source). Additionally, due to immigration, Millennials are due to become even more diverse in years to come. This, combined with innovations in technology, makes the Millennial generation a group that is increasingly globally minded. They are interested in trying new, exciting and ethnic foods and view eating out as an opportunity to try something different.

They are community-minded.

The Millennial community spirit affects restaurants in a number of ways.  For Millennials, eating out isn’t just about eating. It is a time to socialize, eat good food, be seen eating and talk about eating. Restaurants should take the social aspect of dining into consideration, and make it easy for large groups to be accommodated. Smart restaurant managers should also strive to create an atmosphere and environment in which guests feel comfortable staying for longer periods of time.

Additionally, Millennials prefer patronizing restaurants that share their community spirit. This means that Millennials expect businesses to operate ethically, from top to bottom. Restaurants should keep an eye on sustainability and treat employees with respect. Though these traits are important to Millennials, so is getting a good deal. While Millennials are more likely to want restaurants to serve humanely raised animals, they are not likely to want to incur the additional cost unless there is a perceived added value to your restaurant menu.

Need ideas for community-minded promotions? Try hosting a reusable take-out bag promotion, creating a beer garden or working with a farm-to-table concept in your area.

They adopt new technologies quickly.

Thirty-two percent of Millennials report looking at restaurant menus via a smartphone “often” or “very often,” compared with 17 percent of Generation X and just 8 percent of the Boomers. It is very important to maintain your restaurant’s online presence and ensure that your restaurant website is mobile friendly.  

Additionally, 19 percent of Millennials report that they check-in to a restaurant via an app, versus 8 percent of Gen X and 4 percent of Baby Boomers. Millennials are keen to try new technological inventions and indeed can even be enticed to patronize a certain location because of them. If you want to reach the Millennial generation, use social media marketing and incorporate new technological inventions into your concept.   

They like snacks.

Well, everyone likes snacks. Millennials, however, report patronizing restaurants during off-peak hours much more frequently than other generations. In fact, 13 percent of Millennials’ restaurant visits occur at off-peak hours compared to just 6 percent of other generations (Source). For this reason, restaurants that offer special deals during off-peak hours or happy hour snack specials are likely to appeal to the Millennial generation.

Take these Millennial traits to heart and you and your restaurant can party like it’s 1999. 

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