It’s impossible to ignore the power of the millennial customer. This segment of the population is born anywhere between 1980 and 2000 and is often referred to as " Generation Y." By as soon as 2018, millennials will hold a greater spending power than any generation that came before us.
If that isn’t enough to grab your attention, Millennials eat out more often, and also spend more money when doing so, than other generations. This segment spends an average of $174 a month, with almost nine out of 10 of us admitting to splurging on a nice meal, even when money is tight.
There hasn’t been another generation who’s been studied and examined as closely as the Millennials, and I could easily list statistics pertaining to the importance of Millennials to the restaurant industry for the duration of this article, but I digress.
Winning our loyalty however can be hard. Since we are constantly connected, we have plenty of options at our fingertips at any one time. This means any brand — restaurants included — will have to work hard to win a millennial crowd over.
So, what do Millennials care about the most when it comes to their dining experience? Listed below are five of the main points to creating a great experience for the food-obsessed “Generation Yum”.
Millennials might have an affinity for fast casual dining, but don’t be fooled - the dining experience is vital to building trust and customer retention. Fast and friendly service, attention to decor and overall design all play a huge role in how we interact with restaurants.
Millennials see dining out as a special occasion and a chance to socialize and enjoy the company of friends, so make sure your restaurant's environment encourages that. Special events, shared dining and mixed tables are all concepts highly suited for a millennial customer base.
Nothing rings more true to Millennials than “convenience is king”. With everything on demand, our bar is set high for how business to consumer interactions work, bench-marked by services such as Netflix, Uber and Amazon.
Offering ready-to-eat and to-go options is important as we make a spur-of-the-moment decision in regards to what we eat. The ability to order in advance, splitting the bill and getting food delivered (all preferably on mobile) is another key factor to a convenient dining experience.
Having grown up surrounded by or adapted to technology at an early age, more than 50% of Millennials report being among the first to try new technology. This means staying ahead of the curve is essential for engaging Millennial customers.
Any technology that’s part of the dining experience must importantly serve a purpose, such as tablets for ordering, charging stations at the table and of course, free WiFi. Millennials are also avid mobile users, so anything that takes advantage of this is beneficial. Apps to handle loyalty programs (rather than the old physical loyalty card) and location-based promotional marketing should be taken advantage of to attract the ever-moving millennial crowd.
4. Food & Drink
Farm-to-table, organic and sustainable ingredients are all high on the list of preferred menu buzzwords for the socially responsible Millennials. Innovation is key, as well is offering a variety of food and drinks. Unusual or exotic options are sought after.
Millennials are however also a fickle bunch. Their taste and food trends change regularly. Be sure to keep an eye out for the latest trends and listen to what your customers are saying about your food and drinks. You should always be ready to make menu adjustments accordingly.
I won’t go into details about the extent of Millennials attachment to technology, but “the sharing generation” puts a lot of emphasis on brands providing more than just a service or product. Millennials spend time totaling up to a day a week online, so they are constantly bombarded with media. Standing out in such a busy digital landscape requires some thought.
We’ve grown up interacting with businesses and restaurants are no exception. Whether it be online or in person, Millennials expect to be heard and the quality of business to customer interactions are of great importance. Engaging us on social media is also vital, as Millennials will voice opinions and engage in conversations about your business, regardless of if you’re part of the conversation or not.
Why you Should Appeal to Them
Millennials might be a tougher crowd to win over than previous generations, but the potential gains are hard to ignore. When finding a brand that resonates with Millennials, we are more than happy to advocate in favor of it. With the majority of us relying on word-of-mouth and recommendations from our friends and peers when making purchasing decisions, this is an important factor to consider.
Another thing worth mentioning when it comes to catering to millennial customers is the relevance of rewarding loyal customers and repeat business. By constantly interacting and taking care of your devoted customers (millennial or not) you’ll always be top of their mind when it’s time for their next meal out.