6 Restaurant Marketing Strategies to Attract More Millennials
According to a BCG study that asks millennials to rank the items on which they’re most willing to spend money, they put “dining out” near the top. This option ranked higher than consumer electronics, apparel, footwear, beauty and cosmetics products, and accessories. The same study found that millennials dine out 3.4 times a week, regardless of income or household composition.
Who are millennials? Individuals between 18 and 34 years old with substantial spending power. Millennials recently became the largest living generation, surpassing baby boomers! If this thriving group isn’t a part of your marketing strategy, you’re missing out on a massive chunk of the population. We’ve put together six tips on how to market your restaurant to millennials so you can get more traffic.
1: Get Social
Close to 60% of millennials said that social media influences their purchases. One way to engage millennials with your brand is a social media presence. Take time to build a campaign that shows off your restaurant. Run contests, share high-quality photos of menu items, etc. Make sure to respond to all reviews and comments. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter tend to be the best platforms for restaurants. If you are new to social media, start with one account, master it, and then move on to another.
2: Keep in Touch
Email campaigns are a great way to market your restaurant to millennials. When done with a strategy, these emails generate business and develop customer loyalty. There are several email best practice tips that you’ll want to keep in mind. Keep your email content personal. Millennials will not take kindly to a generic email blast—segment email lists based on customer type (new, repeat, etc.). Also, consider experimenting with several email templates. Trying variations will help you judge which styles are most engaging. It will make your emails less predictable, which can lead to email fatigue too.
Adobe’s research found that 88% of millennials read their emails on their smartphone. This metrics shows how important it is for your emails to be mobile-friendly. A mobile-responsive email template will ensure that all content displays appropriately and improves the user experience.
You can gather email addresses if you have a guest management system that integrates with a loyalty program. The loyalty program can collect important information such as allergy information, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
For a variety of mobile-responsive templates and access to email performance analytics, you’ll want to purchase an email marketing software. This software can cost as low as $10 a month, and some even offer a free version.
3: Invest in Technology
Millennials will avoid restaurants with long waits and inconsistent food quality at all costs. Technology is the answer to combat these issues.
Here are a few technology systems you might consider:
Guest Management System
Investing in a restaurant reservation system that allows millennials to check wait times and make a reservation via a companion consumer app will make your restaurant much more desirable. Consumer apps give restaurants access to a consumer network with which they’d otherwise connect. To always continue improving customer service, you’ll also want a solution that gathers guest analytics. Keeping this data will help you track trends and make smarter business decisions.
Kitchen Automation Tool
A kitchen automation system will help reduce ticket times and create a more efficient kitchen. Reduced ticket times will improve the guest experience and enhance food quality. A good KDS will also provide critical metrics about ticket times, labor efficiencies and inefficiencies, and more.
Guest Wi-Fi a great way to attract large groups, especially during work hours. Millennials are frequently on their phones, too, so they’ll want to visit spots that don’t require them to use their phone data to get on the Internet. If you are struggling with lunch sales, this could be a way to help increase them.
Several restaurants have implemented self-service kiosks, including Wendy’s, Panera, and McDonald’s. These kiosks improve accuracy and make dining out much more convenient.
4: Make it Convenient
Millennials demand convenience. With the growing popularity of food delivery apps, it’s hard to avoid takeout. According to Toast, 74% of millennials report a preference for delivery. For your restaurant to stay competitive with the millennial population, off-premise dining should be top of mind.
Before leaping in, you’ll want an off-premise dining plan in place. What menu items will you offer? You’ll probably want to choose easy and quick things to prepare. What type of packaging will you use? You won’t want to mix hot and cold items, so you’ll need separate packaging. What about the two streams of traffic entering your restaurant (dine-in and dine-out)? You’ll need restaurant technology that manages this and provide real-time order tracking. Most importantly, will you use a restaurant delivery partner or manage orders in-house? Delivery partners do charge a commission but also offer a network of consumers looking for food delivery.
5: Be Transparent
Millennials want to know where the source of their food. Be transparent about its origin. If possible, seek locally-grown, organic ingredients. A BCG study found that millennials are twice as likely to care about organic foods as non-millennials. However, that’s not always a reality. Millennials will have more loyalty to restaurants that are truthful about the source of their ingredients. If you are on the path to offering more “clean” food, it is sometimes a long process. Use Panera’s journey to a 100% clean menu as an example. They provided consumers with updates on their gradual menu changes up until the time their menu was completely 100% clean.
Transparency should also include your social responsibility. Millennials love brands that give back and care about the environment. Forbes reported that 75% of millennials have a very high opinion of companies with a strong philanthropic spirit.
6: Offer an Experience
Restaurants are more than just a place to eat for millennials and they’re all about the experience. To market your restaurant to millennials, you need to know your story. What story does your restaurant have to tell and what inspired you to open it? What does your restaurant stand for? Tell that story and tie it into your branding. Do you know any other tips or strategies you’ve tried to market your restaurant to millennials? Let us know in the comments below!
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on February 15, 2018, and has been updated for accuracy, relevance, and comprehensiveness.
About the Author
Emily Wimpsett was a Content & Social Media Specialist at QSR Automations. Emily was born and raised in Louisville, yet now considers herself a die-hard University of Kentucky fan. For college, Emily attended Indiana University Southeast and obtained a degree in Communications with a track in Advertising. In her free time, Emily enjoys just about every water-related activity, but she is partial to kayaking and whitewater rafting.