8 ways restaurants can attract and engage Millennials

Here are a few things you should know about Millennials: Millennials, or Generation Y, are born between 1981 and 1996. They are known for being tech-savvy, environmentally conscious, and sensitive to social issues. They are also avid supporters of work-life balance, which has earned them a reputation of being spoilt and lazy. As consumers, Millennials remain loyal to brands they have a connection with, that is brands who share their values and engage with them often and honestly. 

Why this sudden interest in Millennials? Because Millennials not only are the largest consumer base in the USA but also have a strong habit of dining out and ordering in. With Millennials forming a significant part of your target audience, it’s in your best interest to know as much as you can about them. So let’s see how you can use this information to market your restaurant in a way that appeals to millennial consumers and win their loyalty.

1. Leverage technology and digital channels

Leverage technology to facilitate food ordering and communication, and attract your second most digitally-savvy customers (after Gen Zers, who are digital natives). If you don’t offer at least a couple of digital ordering channels and online payment methods, for example, your restaurant will seem rather old-fashioned and out of place to modern customers. Moreover, offering customers advanced options, like order tracking, and using tools like a driver assist app will enable you to provide faster, more reliable, and transparent services to a generation that appreciates speed and convenience as much as it values quality.

2. Engage with customers on social media 

There’s no better place to (virtually) hang out with a Millennial than social media. Use Facebook and Instagram to enable social media ordering while engaging with your millennial audience. You can also offer a variety of content to attract and maintain their interest. Tantalizing food photos, behind-the-scenes videos, posts with cooking tips, and influencer reviews all go amazingly with your menu and sit very well with your millennial customers.

3. Be socially responsible

Social responsibility, in all its different forms, is important to your millennial customers, who are conscious about issues like planet sustainability and the eradication of poverty. Social responsibility doesn’t concern big corporations only. Even a local restaurant can make a difference by making smart business decisions and participating in local initiatives, like using recyclable packaging, following waste management best practices, contributing to causes, and donating food or money to local shelters. Whatever you do, make sure your customers know about it (you guessed it -- social media is where the word is spread) and are encouraged to follow suit. 

4. Tell your story and follow through

Who you are and why you are doing this matters a lot to Millennials, who prefer brands they can identify with. To that end, you need to be transparent and share your restaurant’s background story and business ethic. To prove you’re not all talk, every choice you make should reinforce your brand image and be in tandem with your story and values. Did you start as a small local restaurant cooking family recipes because you believe that food is most delicious when it’s simple and fresh? Then make sure to get your supplies from local producers and use pure, unprocessed ingredients.

5. Offer online food delivery

The National Restaurant Association found that 67% of millennials say the availability of delivery makes them more likely to choose one restaurant over another. Not only that, but a recent NRA report predicts that delivery and takeout will be the key drivers of the industry’s growth by 2030. With this in mind, you can see how offering food delivery, especially if you enable customers to order online, will keep you strong in the game. To enable online food ordering, you can either sign up for an aggregator or build your own food ordering system. Your marketing needs and finances will determine which option is the best for you. 

6. Create unique culinary experiences

Millennials like to experiment with food and try unexpected food combinations and tastes. Of course, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and offer experimental cuisine. Being inventive with your recipes, however, and adding a modern touch to a traditional dish or fusing cuisines can increase your popularity among Millennials. To complement the experience, present your dishes elegantly, use nice and sturdy packaging for food delivery, and make sure anyone who interacts with the customer is professional and friendly. 

7. Don’t forget about the current food trends

According to a report by the US Department of Agriculture, there has been a shift towards healthy eating in millennial households. Vegetarianism and veganism are also growing food trends at the moment. So, no matter your cuisine, your menu must include healthy choices and at least a few vegetarian and vegan dishes to satisfy all food preferences. In the spirit of offering healthy choices, prefer locally sourced and organic ingredients for your dishes. Your millennial customers will appreciate the fact that you don’t sacrifice the quality of your food or jeopardize their health in the name of profit.

8. Give your customers a voice

Millennials love to be heard and to feel appreciated, so actively seek their feedback whenever you can. A few ways you can go about it? Initiative conversations on social media about new dishes; send an email or put a note in the delivery bag reminding them to review their order; send a notification reminder via your mobile app. Ultimately, seeking feedback shows respect for your customers and a desire to improve your services. For your millennial customers, this sort of interaction is essential to build trust, provided that you respond to their feedback and take their suggestions seriously.

Food for thought

Millennials have grown up surrounded by technology, so they are accustomed to a certain level of convenience. Can you think of anything more convenient than a mobile app? Check these tips for building a mobile app for your restaurant so that you don’t leave out any must-have features.

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