Millennials rank dining out as one of their top guilty pleasures. Ranking this activity even higher than buying electronics, apparel, beauty products and accessories. It’s a fact that over half this group of diners eats out at least three times a week, regardless how much money they make or if they have a family or not.
People who’re aged 18 to 34 are the biggest demographic on the planet, recently taking the crown from the baby boomers who used to dominate the consumer marketplace. Most make good money and most important, they like convenience.
If you’re not catering your marketing to millennials you’re setting yourself up for an uncertain future. Let your competition have just one chance to impress a millennial diner and you may never get another crack at them.
Here are 5 restaurant marketing tips to get more millennials flowing in through the doors of your business:
1. Social media heavily influences millennial buying decisions
Sixty percent of millennials claim that social media recommendations have a huge impact on their buying decisions. Build your social presence and show off your restaurant, encourage reviews, and run giveaways on your most effective social channels.
Facebook, Instagram, Google Plus, and Twitter should all be explored and exploited for your restaurant’s marketing. If you have no presence, start with just one — master it — and move on to the next platform.
2. Get their email and use it
Emails are a great way to get in touch with customers and offer them incentives to come in to your restaurant. Offer them personalized emails and you’ll get even better results. Users should be segmented in order to target them most effectively (new, frequent, vegan/non vegan, etc.)
It should be a given that this crowd will be using their mobile devices to read your email, so everything you send needs to be mobile friendly or it can be ignored, or worse, they’ll hit unsubscribe if the emails are frustrating to read. Mobile friendly templates should be used and always A/B split-test to find what style and type of emails are getting the most results.
The easiest way to get emails is to have customers sign up for a loyalty program and enter their information into the restaurant’s CRM. Email marketing tools like MailChimp can cost as little as $0 for a small restaurant and $10/month for those with larger lists. Email service providers offer all the tools you’ll need to craft and track your email campaigns effectively.
3. Upgrade the restaurant’s technology
Technology can erase many common pitfalls restaurants run into with millennial customers: Ie., long wait times, inconsistent food quality, and lack of clickable technology they can use to make service faster and track the status of their order.
Upgrade to a few new systems in your restaurant and watch millennials come flocking in.
Empower millennial customers
A restaurant waitlist app hands over power to the millennial consumer via mobile apps that connect them to your reservation system. They download your app and are then able to check wait times, and make a reservation that suits their schedule.
The perfect guest management system will gather and compile analytics to track trends such as peak days/times when consumers are most interested in your restaurant.
Automate your kitchen
Automate your kitchen with a ticket automation tool to reduce ticket times. A good kitchen display system tracks average ticket times and identifies inefficiencies to help management and staff improve turnaround times.
Millennials don’t like to wait, which creates problems across the board during busy times and/or staff shortages.
Get with the times
Millennials also like free WiFi. Force them to use precious ($$$) data and you can bet many will try the “place down the street” next time they venture out for a meal.
The use of free WiFi also offers a great opportunity to encourage people to download your app before being connected to your network.
We’ve seen several restaurants offering self-serve kiosks over the last couple of years. McDonalds, Wendy’s, Panera and others are all jumping onboard this technology train.
Kiosks can take the brunt of the stress away from your servers and also cater to a certain demographic that are uncomfortable with the traditional ordering process, who just want to walk in to a place and receive their order.
4. Deliveries equal profit
If you’ve been hesitant to offer delivery services to your customers, there’s never been a better time to get on board. According to Waugh Foods: “One-fifth of Millennial (20%) restaurant orders are for delivery, compared to 13% of Generation X’s and just 12% of Baby Boomers’ foodservice visits.”
There’s a very good chance Gen Z will continue this trend, as so many retailers are now moving to online sales and delivery models and scaling down their physical presence. Don’t let traditions cloud your judgment, off-premise dining is the way of the future.
There are several things to consider before jumping in:
- You’ll want a list of desirable and easy to make menu items to reduce stress on staff and facilitate quick deliveries.
- Don’t forget that millennials are the snacking culture and don’t always want a big meal.)
- Packaging will have to be sourced — packaging that keeps food fresh, in-tact, and which is cheap to use and quick to order when supplies run low.
- You might need to upgrade your guest management system if it doesn’t account for delivery orders and tracking.
- In some cases, added kitchen staff may be required — and potentially additional space and equipment as delivery orders ramp up in scale and popularity.
- Consider if you’d like to manage your own delivery staff or outsource to a delivery partner such as local taxi companies or mobile delivery app services.
On the last point, delivery services will charge you for their services, but can also boost business by advertising your restaurant in geo-targeted advertisements on their app (Ie., without you, they have no business!)
5. Keep up with millennial expectations
Millennials are all about transparency from the brands they do business with. In the case of the restaurants they dine at, they want to know where their food comes from, and how it’s prepared. An open kitchen is a great consideration if you’re currently in the planning phase for a yet unopened restaurant.
Beyond letting customers see your staff preparing their food, servers need to be armed with all the information available about the foods you serve:
- Where was it sourced?
- Free range?
- Frozen/unfrozen — mixture of both and the reason why?
- The food’s story (Eg., Organic family farm located in the foothills of the Alps, growing food for three generations, etc.)
Millennials want to give their business to socially responsible businesses, so you should also be prepared to share how your business gives back to the society that keeps its doors open.
Millennials are looking for a seamless and positive experience from beginning to end. Give them what they want and this generation will help fund your restaurant for decades to come. Miss a beat along the way, and they’ll move on to a brand that checks the boxes better.