With every new generation comes a new breed of workers and consumers with unique habits, trends and preferences that often contradict that of the generations preceding them. Millennials, however, are shattering and reshaping traditional workplace and consumer habits. Millennials recently became the largest generation in the workforce with over 53 million workers, ushering society into an unprecedented future. They account for $2.45 trillion in spending, and spend an average of 10.6% more at restaurants than any other generation.
With an attachment to technology and mobile phones from young ages, millennials are more tech-orientated than any generation before them. This impacts how restaurant operators both hire millennial workers and service millennial customers.
Millennials are rapidly reshaping the consumer environment for restaurants. Not only have their preferences and priorities changed, but also the way in which they want to order and be served is completely different as well. Partially because of this shift, restaurants are facing customer turnover in millennials, as they are very willing to try new places, but keeping them coming back requires a lot more effort. Here are some tips on how to get and keep these millennials coming through your doors:
1. Add creativity and customization
With the success of fast casual chains such as Chipotle and Blaze Pizza, it is easy to see just how important inclusion in the creative process and customization is for millennials. Everyone has different preferences, so if your customers can feel like the sous chef for their meal, they will automatically think highly of their creation. In addition, millennials actively pursue new foods and experiences, so creating and promoting new menu items on a regular basis will encourage these dynamic individuals to come back.
2. Utilize technology to enlist loyalists
To increase customer loyalty, you must acknowledge the tech savvy nature of this group. Studies show that 39% of millennials have already used technology to order food from restaurants, so having options for mobile ordering, pickup and delivery resonates well with this generation of convenience oriented people. According to Technomic, a consulting firm for the food industry, food delivery could become a $3 to $5 billion market in the next decade. There is also a new level of interconnectivity that allows all consumers to easily see what others thought of your food and service through services such as Yelp, Google Reviews and more. Instead of fighting or ignoring these services, embrace them with the highest quality service and open your ears to customer wants and needs.
3. They care about food quality
Millennials are demanding more than just healthy alternatives on your menu. These individuals want to know where their food and ingredients are coming from, with preferences about locally grown, organic products free of preservatives, artificial flavoring, and GMOs. Beyond this, they prefer food that comes from ethical and sustainable sources, such as farms with cage-free chickens or grass-fed cows. Millennial customers want to feel good about what they’re eating, so if you supply menu items with these whole foods standards, they will be willing to pay the difference and be more likely to return as a customer.
Restaurants need to make changes to account for the ever-growing presence of millennials in the workforce and consumer environment. With over $200 billion in buying power at restaurants, you’ll want these consumers to keep coming through your doors. With the right mindset and company mission, these millennials could just become your loyal customers and workforce for years to come.
In part 2 of the series we'll explore how restaurant operators can attract, hire, and maintain millennial talent.