Millennials are now the fastest growing dining demographic. Defined by Retail Leader as those between 17 and 34 years old, this fast-moving, mobile and social generation dines out more than four meals per week.
Millennials hold $1.3 trillion in spending power, making them an important driver of the success (or failure) of restaurants in all segments. It goes without saying that without active marketing to millennials, eateries will end up losing their slice of that huge pie.
Here are five ways restaurant operators can get and hold the attention of this food-loving generation.
1. Communal tables
Eating out is a social event, and most millennials like to dine in groups. When it comes to seating, 55% of millennials prefer communal tables at restaurants. They might all sit with their eyes and thumbs glued to their smartphones, but they want to do it together.
2. Skip the huge portions and “old favorites”
Take a look at the menu while you’re at it. Millennials eat out more at lunch, which is usually lighter fare to start with, and tend to eat four smaller meals a day at non-traditional times.
You’ll need more than a few appetizers to keeping a millennial’s attention, but stay away from the large portions of Mom’s Meatloaf. This group likes to snack.
3. Go local, go organic
It’s no secret that millennials like trendy foods, but they also like also like them to be “real.” In fact, twice as many millennials insist on eating certified organic foods, compared to 21% of Gen X-ers and 15% of baby boomers. It’s even better if it’s locally sourced. That’s why Whole Foods is one of their most trusted brand names.
From meats to produce to dairy, it’s about what millennials consider quality, ethically sourced and wholesome. Put these items on your menu, and – just like shopping at Whole Foods – they’ll pay a bit more for it.
Millennials want to pick and choose the ingredients that go into them. DIY foodies are spending more on premium ingredients and starting supper clubs. They are also more likely to opt for small-batch handcrafted beers and artisanal items than going after the big brand names. All of this feeds into the personalized experience that millennials crave.
5. Just the facts
While the new federal regulations for restaurant food labels are being delayed, to attract millennials, restaurants must act now. Millennials want transparency when it comes to nutrition so that they can make healthier choices – or at least have the option to. It’s not just about calorie count either – they want to know what’s in the food, where it came from and how it was raised. And that information needs to front-and-center, both in the restaurant and online.
Did the veggies come from a mega-farm where pesticides and minimum wages are the norm? Or from a local farmer that practices responsible, organic methods and pays a living wage? To millennials, whether the food has “integrity” is as important as how it tastes.
That’s a wrap
There are many other “must-haves” you need to attract millennial diners. But start with these five points and you’ll strike a chord. And don’t forget to socialize your changes. Be loud and proud about what you’re serving up – millennials like that, too.
Find Out More About Appealing to the Millennial Generation
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Jason Barge is a marketing manager at LRS and an expert in communications for the hospitality industry.