4 ways restaurants attract millennials

More than half of millennials dine out once a week, compared to just 43 percent of the remaining population. See how these restaurants exemplify what it takes to attract this generation.

In-Touch Restaurants Attract Millennials by Understanding their Dining Desires

50 percent of millennials dine out according to BusinessInsider.com, and they do so for more reasons than just to eat food. They use it as an opportunity to gather with friends, eat local, and show philanthropic support. As a restaurant, understanding the desires of this generation is crucial as they hold $200 billion in spending power and are projected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025.

Be current, be hip.

To attract millennials, restaurants need to continually update your menu, adapt cooking practices, and mold their ambiance to stay on top.

When you think about millennials’ favorite sit down restaurant, Red Lobster is the first that comes to mind, right? Don’t worry, we were just as surprised as you. In May 2016, Red Lobster was named the number 1 choice with 18-24 year old’s, over 173 other brands. What did they do to revamp?

  1. Updated their menu. Red Lobster constantly updates their menu to the newest food trends in the country. Recently they added new flavors such as chimichurri and spicy Tennessee bourbon.
  2. Adapted cooking practices. Red Lobster took feedback from their customers and increased the size of their shrimp by 47 percent. They also prepare more dishes in house (over shipping) and added more sauce to their dishes.
  3. Molded their ambiance. Red Lobster encourages their customers to dine in by offering a new line of unique alcoholic beverages and has made sure their restaurants are designed to hold large parties, which perfectly fits a millennial’s desire.

On top of these changes, Red Lobster has embraced their role in pop culture. Pop singer, Beyoncé, mentioned the restaurant in one her songs in February, and sales went up 33 percent the day after she released her song.

We understand not every restaurant can get a shout out from a pop singer, but staying current with your menu and ambiance is an effective way to grab hold of your millennial audience.

Be online, be mobile.

As a restaurant owner you should be asking yourself these questions: Do you have a website, do you have an app, is your menu available online, how easy is it to order, and are you racking up online reviews?

59% of Millennials Review Menus Online Before Going to a Restaurant

59 percent of millennials review menus online before going to the restaurant. Millennials research places to eat like they research buying a product on Amazon. They will go to your website, look at your menu, read your reviews on Yelp, and look at pictures of your dining experience.

19% of Millennials Use Mobile Devices to Research Restaurants

19 percent of millennials will use a mobile device when researching a restaurant. Being mobile friendly goes beyond your website – and you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to create an app either. Creating a simple online order process won’t cost you much and will make it easier for millennials to order on the go, as they sometimes prefer. Your website can even help save on labor costs by eliminating or at least reducing the amount of manpower needed to:

  • take restaurant reservations
  • chalk up points or rewards to a customer’s loyalty account
  • find out whether rewards can be redeemed
  • act as a digital POS (point of sale) for to-go orders (or any customer check)
  • promote ancillary services like catering, special events, membership programs, and so on
  • estimate staffing needs (based on reservations, advanced orders and trends)
  • and much more

For fast food and fast casual restaurants that want an app, consider Starbucks as a model. Starbucks users can use the Starbucks mobile app to pay and order ahead so they can bypass the line, avoiding a potentially lengthy point of sale experience in-store, and receive promotions to entice them to return every day. Regardless of whether millennials will be taking their food to go or eating at your restaurant, enabling point of sale functionality through your website or mobile app can be an attractive perk for customers, especially if they are short on time.

Be healthy, be local.

Counting calories is so last year if you talk to millennials. Understanding the ingredients in your dishes as well as where they came from now takes precedence.

30% of Millennials Prefer to Eat Food Labeled as “Organic”

30 percent of millennials prefer to eat food that is labeled as organic. Many restaurants have taken part in the farm to table movement. The idea of this movement is the minimize the miles between your food source and your restaurant.

The great news is this kind of food doesn’t have to break the bank. Chipotle, and Five Guys are the most popular restaurants that have adopted the healthy and local menu. Chipotle serves meat with no human antibiotics while Five Guys writes their meat and potato source on their whiteboards every day. Make it a priority to help millennials understand where your restaurants food originates.

Be giving, be ethical.

Of all the generations, millennials are the most likely to visit a restaurant with good social ethics. 40 percent of millennials are more willing to endorse a company with eco-conscious values over a company without a societal stance.

40% of Millennials Prefer Restaurants that Express Eco-Conscious Values

Your restaurant in no exception. Think about Chick-Fil-A. Everything about their brand shows what they stand for; it’s easy to see how they are involved in their community. If your restaurant is involved in local community events, you should be publicizing your involvement on social media in order to attract philanthropic and charity-minded millennials.

Incorporating these four millennial drivers can help your restaurant capture the attention of this generation and attract more millennials.

Understanding the desires of the millennials will help your restaurant move faster as this generation continues to move into its buying power. While not all millennials have the same taste in food, they do look for the same qualities in choosing a restaurant. Adapting your restaurant to these changes now, will help not only help you attract millennials, but will also help you stay current, and stay resilient as times continue to change.

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