Say what you will about young people in this country, but they’ve gotta eat too! There are close to 80 billion millennials in the United States, and they make up about ¼ of the buying power. On top of that, they eat out more than any other generation before them. They’re fiercely loyal to their favorite franchises, but love to explore the possibility of new foods. They often spend their money on experiences rather than tucking it away in savings, and food is always high up on the experiences list. It’s these young people that you want coming to your restaurant. Question is: How do you get them there?
Give Affordable and Delicious Options
One of the defining qualities of millennials is how little wealth they actually have compared to older generations. The percentage of kids earning more money than their parents has dropped considerably between the 1940s and the 1980s, from 90% to just about 50%. The lack of funds means that cheap food is often the only food that young people can afford to eat. Millennials still want it all, though. They want to have their cake and eat it too. For millennials to be interested in your restaurant, your food and drink can’t just be cheap – it has to taste great too! Millennials are hard workers and conservative spenders, so eating out is typically considered when given a cheaper alternative. That doesn’t mean that you should need to sell your 25-year-aged bourbon as a party cocktail. Provide options that stand out and make your young customers’ mouths water without breaking the bank.
Invest in Creativity
Young, creative minds flock to places that embrace creativity and innovation. The hipper your place is, the hipper the crowd that shows up to eat will be. Millennials love restaurants that have a unique flair. Exposed brick has had an impressive comeback as a stylistic trend in restaurants and bars, for example. The aesthetic for these restaurants is minimalist and bare, which gives a certain comfort to millennial customers. While you don’t necessarily need to strip away your nice wallpaper, you can consider the atmosphere of the room and adjust for younger eyes. Put some thought into what your restaurant can do to give it a competitive edge in attracting millennials. Young people love their local businesses, so put yourself on the map by collaborating with other local businesses. Partner with local breweries and give your restaurant the feeling of being ahead of the curve. Use local artwork and paintings to liven up the dining room. Have local musicians come in and play every once in awhile to attract their audiences to your restaurant. Be as open as possible to suggestions, especially when they’re coming from customers. This’ll give you the best grasp on what your clients want to leave the same and what they’d like to see change.
Balance Between Quality and Presentation
Young people aren’t very easily tricked. They’ve grown up in the age of technology, where information about virtually anything is available at the fingertips. They know enough to question what they’re getting at a restaurant and where it comes from. Don’t give these millennials a reason not to eat at your establishment. Use fresh produce always, and limit the amount of processed food on your menu. Millennials really like their organic vegetables and locally-sourced meats, so the more menu items that feature great ingredients the better! In the age of smartphones, it’s not just enough for the food to taste great. The look and feel of the food is equally important to millennials. They enjoy picturesque meal preparations – lunches and dinners that they could take a picture of and post to Instagram. The better your meal looks to your young customer, the more likely they’ll be to post it somewhere and let their friends know about your restaurant.
Have a Media Presence
In order to stay relevant in the 21st century, you must have some sort of media presence. A great website is a necessity, since it centralizes the information about your restaurant to virtually anyone who’s interested. Anyone who’s looking for info on your restaurant will likely search it out online. You don’t want the first thing that these people see online to be reviews, even if they’re good ones! You want to cater your website to represent your restaurant in the best light. Make sure to have a mobile-optimized presence as well, since many millennials use their phones to look at restaurant menus ahead of time. Social media is prime for marketing to your customer base, but especially for millennials. Use Facebook to promote special events. Take pictures of your newest menu items or cocktails and post them on Instagram. Engage with your customer base by responding to restaurant reviews wherever they pop up. Just a simple “thank you” for a positive review could make a repeat customer out of a happy client. Strategically putting time into your online presence will increase general awareness and buzz around your restaurant.
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