Focusing Your Marketing On The Millennial Audience

Sustaining and growing a profitable restaurant requires a loyal and expanding customer base. Millennials – also known as Generation Y and Generation Now – are now the largest market with most significant spending power and should be a restaurant owner's primary target when engaging in marketing efforts.

Who is a millennial:

  • Children of the baby boomers
  • Born between 1977 and the mid-1990s
  • The largest and most influential generation since the boomers
  • Number more than 80 million
  • The most ethnically and racially diverse group in U.S. history

Now in their late teens to mid-thirties, millennials are confident, optimistic, self-expressive multi-taskers who can handle change and adversity. Raised with cell phones and the Web, they are inherently technologically savvy and make buying decisions very differently than their previous generation.

What's even more powerful about this group? They eat out more often than any other demographic.  In addition, Millennials have a major influence on the buying decisions of baby-boomers which is now the second largest target group.  So making sure that your marketing efforts are optimized for the millennial generation is now more important than ever.

For the past decade, the topic of SEO has dominated the online/digital marketing world.  However, SEO now has much less of an impact on influencing today's millennial's dining/nightlife decisions.  In fact, SEO is dying a slow death and Millennials are too busy looking at their phones to even notice.  

So what are Millennials basing their decisions on? Statistics and recent studies now validate that the two major factors are review sites and social media.

This can be seen through the three following stats:

"Restaurants with 3.5 stars on Yelp are 63% more likely to be full then those with just 3 stars – just a half star difference!" (UK Guardian)
"72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from real people" – (Search Engine Land)
"A one-star rating hike on Yelp can mean a 5% to 9% rise in restaurant revenue" (Harvard Business Review)

In regards to social media and Millennials, "seven out of ten consumers are now more likely to use a local business if it has information available on a social media site" (comScore Networks/TMP Directional Marketing) and "85% of customers expect businesses to be active in social media" (Vocus).  But just "being active" isn't enough these days.  An effective social media strategy requires 2-way communication.  Millennials want to engage with brands on social networks. 62% of millennials say that if a brand interacts with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. They expect brands to not only be on social networks, but to connect with them. 

The accessibility to and their bond with media and technology should make them attractive to restaurant owners.

How to connect with millennials

Encourage word-of-mouth recommendations: Word-of-mouth is still one of if not the most effective way to reach new customers.  Millennials greatly value friends’ opinions when making decisions. Further, these recommendations aren't just happening in person but also via social media. Which is yet another reason why a strong social media strategy fuels your word of mouth referrals.

Highlight your social responsibility: Millennials are socially aware and responsible. They connect with brands that support sustainability and give back to the community. If you have them, emphasize them (i.e. organic, hormone-free, grass-fed and locally sourced items in menus, promotions and ads). Don’t overemphasize “green” and recycling; millennials already expect these as ground-level efforts. 

Show you’re digitally integrated: Offer free wireless Internet in your restaurants to accommodate millennials’ drive for connection and make sure they KNOW you offer it by advertising it within your restaurant/bar. Throughout any of your in-store marketing (posters, table-tents, POP) make sure to emphasize your social media presence.

Be Authentic: This is probably the most important aspect to your marketing strategy.  The competitive edge for any small to medium-sized restaurant or bar is just that, they are small.  Millennials prefer a local/authentic experience to that of a chain.  Make sure this is highlighted and expressed in your marketing/social strategy.

For more insight into this topic and to learn more about how we can help you execute this strategy, please contact us today.

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