In the business setting, “Millennial” has been the hot buzzword for the last decade. Millennials, also known as Generation Y, consist of all those born at some point between 1982 and 2004. They have since come into their own as far as their capabilities to make significant purchase decisions are concerned. This has driven businesses to readjust their marketing objectives to appeal to this younger, creative and community-oriented group of consumers. So far, we’ve seen the massive impact this generation has had on transforming American business and, more specifically, the foodservice industry.


Realign Objectives to Appeal to Millennials

By and large, this group has demonstrated a swing towards early adoption as it relates to emerging trends and ideas. Perhaps more importantly, their purchase decisions have majorly influenced the taste and behavior of older generations, such as Gen X (those born between the mid-1960s and early 1980s) and Baby Boomers (born before the early 1960s).

This generation may be the first generation to “influence up,” according to a comprehensive study conducted by FutureCast, a marketing research agency based in Kansas City. Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, as well as the popularity of online dating, have shattered two previously internalized perceptions, changing the way society as a whole operates:

1) meeting up with random people we’ve talked to online, and

2) getting in cars with strangers.

Earnest Research, a data aggregate firm located in New York, measured ride sharing expenditures across credit and debit card data and found that in 2017, 40% of Americans used a ride-hailing app. This data tells us that it isn’t only millennials using these services, but they’ve influenced their parents and grandparents to do so as well.

Millennials also spend a lot of money dining out. According to Forbes, they’re projected to surpass the Baby Boomer generation in 2019 as the essential spending group of consumers in America. Though reported that millennials bring in less income than the generations as mentioned above, therefore having less discretionary funds, they are more likely to spend what they do have on food. According to the New York Times, millennials are spending less time on food preparation, opting instead to dine out or order in.


Tap Into the Ideal Millennial Brand

What are millennials looking for in your brand?  It’s important to understand their awareness and who holds the power of influence to begin unpacking this loaded question. According to FutureCast, millennials look towards:


  1. Their social circles, a close network of friends and family and their approval of the brand
  2. Themselves, ensuring your brand’s mission and purpose align with their core beliefs
  3. Innovation. Is your brand unique? Are you continuously looking to improve? Do you value feedback?
  4. Trust. Are you transparent? Do you put your customers first and act with a high degree of integrity?
  5. Social impact. Are your efforts in making a positive contribution to the community and environment? (for recommendations on enhancing your environmental sustainability efforts, check out our blogs on Sustainability Inside and Outside the Kitchen)
  6. Accessibility. How close are you? How easy is it to use your app or website?

Craft an Experience

Millennials want more than just food. They want ambiance. They want adventure. They want an experience to remember.

On any given night, millennials get confronted with an overwhelming amount of dining options. When it comes to food, nothing is unique. Do you offer tacos? Chances are five other nearby restaurants do too. Emphasizing creating the ultimate taco-eating experience will help potential customers zero in on your spot instead. One important caveat – unique does not mean expensive. You don’t need to hire Beyoncé to perform live every night. Some upbeat music, warm lighting, and fun décor should do the trick.


Think Global, Eat Local

A trend towards health-conscious options made with locally sourced ingredients has been on the upswing for a while now. Spoiler alert: it’s not going anywhere. This is a staple characteristic of the generation. Just Eat, an international meal delivery service, conducted consumer research that found in just the past year, healthy food choices and gluten-free menu options grew by 94% and 72% respectively.

Vegan and vegetarian lifestyles are also on the rise, and this has dramatically influenced menu options across the board. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, 5% of Americans claim to be vegetarian while 3% identify as vegan. Both demonstrate in the younger generation. 7% of those aged 18-29 consider themselves vegetarian, while 8% of those aged 30-49 assert they are.

What does this mean for your restaurant? Even though vegans and vegetarians are still in the minority, the majority of millennials at least have one in their immediate friend group. This factors into their decision when choosing where to dine.

Millennials are also willing to pay more for locally sourced foods, understanding that they’re traditionally more expensive; however, feeling better about contributing to the environment and their immediate community, according to the National Restaurant Association. The bottom line for your bottom line: ditch processed foods and switch to localized food sources, and don’t neglect to advertise it.


Ensure Accessibility

Millennials are the most tech-savvy generation to date. As technology evolves, so do expectations. Millennials are just as fond of meal delivery as they are of dining out. Again, both offer a solution to the inconveniences of food prep. The boom in meal delivery services like UberEats, Grubhub and DoorDash showcase just how much demand there is. These services provide a solution that millennials have demonstrated they’re more than happy to pay extra for, partnering with traditional dine-in operations to expand their reach. Offering delivery is an excellent investment in the future of your business.


Ready… Set… Go!

The restaurant industry has adapted to meet the specific wants of the millennials. Here are just a few last-minute tips to better connect with this critical market:

  • Create or update your Google My Business page. Most consumers now surf online to find new restaurants. An excellent opportunity to attract new business is by updating your page with inviting menu options, your current location, contact, and restaurant details.
  • Invest in a Snapchat filter. Snapchat reaches 41% of all 18 to 34-year-olds in the United States on any given day. It’s a great way to differentiate from competitors while promoting your unique brand.

For additional industry insights, be sure to check out our other blogs and our massive assortment of commercial restaurant solutions!


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