Lemonade: How a Brand Effectively Reaches a Millennial Audience

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

Whether you’re an operator, chef, or foodie– you’re probably sick of hearing the term Millennial.

Artistic display of the food selection from Lemonade |  Lemonade  

Artistic display of the food selection from Lemonade | Lemonade 

The term Millennial has often become a buzz word that the media loves to throw in a headline every chance they get.

But, why is there so much of a focus on these generation? It’s because of their tremendous buying power.

With more than 80 million millennials, this group is the largest and most influential generation since the baby boomers. So it’s safe to say, that a brand that speaks millennial and knows what they want is likely going to be a successful one.

So how does a brand achieve this?

The National Restaurant Association has some valuable tips such as:

  • “Highlighting your social responsibility: Millennials are socially aware and responsible. They connect with brands that support sustainability and give back to the community. If you have them, emphasize organic, hormone-free, grass-fed and locally sourced items in menus, promotions and ads. Don’t overemphasize “green” and recycling; millennials already expect these as ground-level efforts.”
  • “Maximizing your social networking: Ensure you have an engaging online presence including interactive Twitter and Facebook profiles. Run any promotions across all social media platforms. Include calls to action that allow millennials to interact with your brand.”

To get some first-hand tips on how to effectively market to this generation, we decided to reach out to a restaurant brand that millennials can’t seem to get enough of.

Lemonade is a fast casual with 25 stores in California. This chef-driven concept has a seasonal and veggie driven menu and caters to the on-to-go consumer with customizable food options.

Lemonade marketplace |  Lemonade

Lemonade marketplace | Lemonade

We sat down with Joann Cianciulli, the director of marketing at Lemonade to see how the brand is reaching the millennial audience from the inside out.

Foodable: What millennial trends are you seeing prominently impact the fast casual market?

Cianciulli: I think people today, including millennials, have a focus on healthy, fresh, high-quality food and this is the backbone of Lemonade’s menu. We feature over 80 varieties of fruits, vegetables, and herbs on any given day.

Our a la carte menu is also customizable, where the guest can choose their own adventure. This mix-and-match flexibility, where no two plates look alike, has a real appeal to the individual experience.

Speaking Millennial with Digital Platforms

Foodable: Lemonade has a strong millennial following. Why do you that is and how does the brand cultivate loyalty from this audience?

veggies for brunch? all. over. it. 🍋 #eatcolorfully (📷: @upliftstudiosla)

A photo posted by Lemonade (@lemonadela) on

Cianciulli: Social media is always a way we engage our audience. By featuring exclusive behind the scenes videos and photos on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram (including stories), we are able to connect with fans of the brand and bring them into the experience. 

Creating our own hashtags, such as #Eatcolorfully is an organic way to tell the story of Lemonade and what are food is about. We also like to reverse it and feature user-generated content campaigns on our social channels to engage readers, build trust, and get people involved. Our followers love to take photos of our food and we love them for it!

Also, by using third party delivery services, such as Postmates and Uber Eats, builds loyalty and consistency.

Expanding in a Concentrated Market and Remaining Company-owned

Foodable: What is Lemonade's growth plan?

Cianciulli: Since opening the first location in Los Angeles in 2008, Lemonade now has 25 locations throughout California, including LA area, Orange County, San Diego, and most recently Northern California.

In 2016, Lemonade expanded to the Bay Area, with 3 locations that opened this past summer (Yerba Buena, Palo Alto, and Burlingame) and 3 more expected by the end of the year (Walnut Creek, West Portal, and Inner Sunset). We are also slated to open in Torrance at Del Amo Fashion Center. Lemonade is privately owned and not a franchise and I think that guests can appreciate the distinction and care.

Foodable: What have been some of the challenges in expanding the brand?

Cianciulli: Our expansion has not been overnight, but moreover we have been opening stores in neighborhoods with a sense of community at a steady rate since Chef Alan Jackson founded the company 8 years ago.

Foodable: What does the future hold for Lemonade?

Cianciulli: Chef Alan Jackson continually showcases the season’s finest ingredients and changes the menu eight times per year, giving guests an abundance of variety.

We also hope to launch online/mobile ordering and/or Lemonade app in the not so distance future to engage our audience and offer further convenience.