Oh, millennials. It feels as though no other generation has been written about with such passion as these 23-38-year-olds who, for the most part, seem to perplex the world with their firm morals and fussy pallets. These, now adult, kids have had marketers working overtime, researching and analysing, trying to find the perfect formula to win their business.
As a generalisation, the millennial demographic is the tech-savvy, health-conscious, values-driven generation, whose drivers regularly change according to the latest information on what's best for the planet, their bodies and the wellbeing of their peers across the world.
They have more choices, less time, higher expectations, and they expect everything to be convenient and instantly accessible at their finger-tips. They grew up in the Internet age, after all. They're used to finding everything online with ease and making purchases in an instant.
For restaurants yet to consider the needs of this demographic, it's worth highlighting that they are the generation spending the most eating out. Millennials and the post-millennial generation are the customer of today, not the customers of the future.
Restaurants that fail to adapt to millennial and post-millennial demands will be quickly left in the dust.
For all the new restaurants popping up in Dubai in the run-up to Expo 2020, it is strongly advised that you pay close attention to this market, they may be the one to keep you securing bookings once the Expo hype is over.
1. Do Your Research
Understanding your target customer should be the first step for any marketing strategy. In this case, it just means focussing on this demographic, rather than broadly to the masses. Millennials go to the places they feel understand their values. A little research into what they care about today can go a long way in attracting more customers tomorrow.
Consider the movements currently topical in the world. Millennials care about the environment; they care if the suppliers you buy from are well treated, fairly paid and have sustainable models. They care about their health and are interested in fresh ingredients and nutritional information. They have special dietary requirements from being vegetarian or vegan to intolerances to nuts, gluten, shellfish etc. Learn what drives their purchasing decisions and work to weave their desires into your offering.
2. Build Awareness Around What You Offer
Once you understand what the millennial market is seeking and have figured out how to offer an experience or menu that meets their needs, you need to get it into their awareness. Millennials are online, and this is precisely where you are going to meet them.
If you source local produce, create a social media campaign talking about your locally sourced products. If you're ditching plastic straws in favour of a reusable option, create a campaign that promotes this move and generates awareness about the importance of making this shift. If your menu is online, expose it to search engines and social media.
3. Get Into Technology
This group are the tech generation. Technology creates a level of convenience and connection that these guys have come to expect in every part of their life. At a minimum, restaurants need to be online and make it easy for customers to make table bookings online.
Beyond the basics, modern millennial hot-spots are adopting technology for their menus, allowing their young customers to browse their dishes and dig deep into the nutritional information of each. Online digital menus don't have the same space restrictions of a traditional menu. This gives restaurants the freedom to describe in exquisite detail the health, nutritional and environmental information of each menu item so that millennials can make informed decisions about what they put into their body.
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4. Do Not Make Them Wait
Used to the fast online pace of getting anything they want in an instant, waiting for too long to get food or a response to an online enquiry can very quickly turn a millennial away from an establishment. To avoid turning an entire generation away, set up safeguards.
- Implement auto-responses wherever they can contact you online so that you can manage expectations of when you will respond, or give them another way to get what they need.
- Enable them to view the menu anytime any place by having it online either on your website or as a stand-alone digital menu.
- Managing expectations on wait time is essential to keeping this impatient group calm. With an online menu, you can allow customers to order ahead of time if they are time-poor, or you can list the average wait time for each dish, so they are aware that some things may require a little patience.
- Answer all your customer's questions directly from the menu itself so that they do not need to wait for a waiter.
5. Create a Culture Around Your Brand
If there is one thing that millennials love, it is a community. The restaurants that do well with this market are those that know their brand exceptionally well and can create a culture and story around their brand online, which translates into the venue offline. If, for example, your restaurant has promoted online that they care about the environment and is taking away all single-use plastics, you could have marketing in the venue that encourages customers to post online and promote that they also support the reduced use of plastic.
This creates a community around your brand where your customers help to promote you based on you sharing the same values. That, in turn, leads more millennials to your door and creates a place where this like-minded community can come together.
Success with this demographic is not without its challenges, but the restaurants able to fuse technology, meaningful connections, social consciousness and convenience are going to be the ones to stand the test of time and keep their doors open when the Expo 2020 buzz comes to a close.