June 8, 2016
Posted in: Culinary Arts

5 Tips for Engaging Millennial Customers

Tips for catering toward millenials in your restaurants.

According to the U.S. Census Department, millennials – those people born between 1982 and 2000 – are one of the largest groups of people in America. With some 83.1 million members, they now outnumber even Baby Boomers, and they’re also a much more diverse population than their parents or grandparents. They are varied not only in terms of where they want to live or their career choices, but especially when it comes to the food they eat. As Eater pointed out, millennials spend $174 on eating out each month, compared to $153 for non-millennials. Given this dynamic, it’s important that chefs find ways of reaching this food-centric group of consumers. Here are five tips for engaging your millennial customers:

“Millennials are especially tech savvy.”

1. Technology is your friend
Marketing is essential for all cafes and eateries. But as the National Restaurant Association explained, marketing to millennials is a different job entirely. Technology is important to this population, and steps like using social network platforms are among the easiest ways to reach out and promote your business. You might also want to consider something like QR codes and online  promos – anything to drive traffic to your website while demonstrating your digital integration. If they can utilize text during a visit, perhaps to enter weekly promotions, that’s going to draw them in further.

2. Appeal to their desires
Your average millennials grew up in an interesting time in history. As much as technology is central to their lifestyles, it’s not the only thing that defines this unique group.  Millennials love a sense of novelty, of exploring new ideas and crossing boundaries, especially when it comes to food. So, as a chef, don’t be afraid to be just as daring. Got an idea for a wacky combination of ingredients? Go for it. Want to try something new with the space’s design or layout? You’ll find that this group is accepting of innovation. The more exciting the change, the more interest you’ll likely generate.

3. Stay sustainable 
Millennials aren’t just about what’s new and exciting; they also have a pronounced commitment to the environment. In a 2015 survey from Nielsen, millennials said that sustainability is  a huge priority when it comes to consumerism and retail. Fortunately for the chefs, it’s fairly easy to make sustainability a major component of your kitchen. The most important step is to know what you’re buying, and to pay attention not only to price but the origins of ingredients. As an extension of this, you can find the best ingredients by developing partnerships with local farmers and growers.

4. Make eating an experience
Almost everyone loves to eat out. However, as Foodable TV explained, most millennials see this experience as something truly special. Going out to eat isn’t just about the food but a chance to hang out with friends and socialize. The restaurants should help to foster this sense of community, and an effective approach to  design can go a long way. Things like a unified aesthetic and basic functionality keep the focus on a table’s interactions, and that’s going to be hugely important for millennial diners.

“Millennial employees require special training.”

5. Employ a few millennials 
What better way to appease your millennials than by hiring people of this generation? Having like-minded wait staff is an effective way at showing how committed you are to a consumer base. However, as HotSchedules pointed out, it’s important to tailor any training to millennials specifically. For one, any training should be tech-centric, as computers and the like were hallmarks of the average millennial’s schooling. Similarly, visual components are essential, and bright infographics make absorbing info that much easier. Finally, millennials want mentors, a trainer they can engage with and continually turn to for advice and guidance.