Turning Millennials into Casual Dining Brand Advocates
If you are in the fast casual restaurant industry, and you haven’t been paying attention the tidal wave of millennials that has swept the market, it’s time to start. Millennials came of age during a time of severe technological advancement, extreme economic despair, and globalization; as such, their buying preferences are vastly different than those of any previous generation. The millennial generation is the largest generation ever to exist, and today they make up the biggest percentage of the market.
If you are hoping to attract millennials to your fast casual restaurant (and especially if you are hoping to turn them into vocal and loyal brand advocates), you’ll need to back away from the status quo and find new ways to engage them.
Here are some ways to get started.
Make it personal: Millennials are all about personal customer experiences. Restaurants like Pieology, WOW Burger, and Chipotle let customers build their food items from scratch. If this is an option at your restaurant, definitely try it. At the very least, make it easy for people to customize their orders. You may also consider investing in customer driven data collection. Ask your customers for their email address and have them fill out surveys about their preferences. (If you can do this digitally through social media, even better.) Then, use this data to personalize the experience. Send Jacob a free slice of pepperoni on his birthday, or send Jill a coupon for 50% off margaritas for her and three guests. Find a way to show your customers that you see them as individuals.
Work with food delivery apps: Food delivery apps like GrubHub, Seamless, and UberEats are attractive to millennials because they offer complete convenience. If you can partner with these services, you will be able to take advantage of their significant market share and customer base. You will be able to reach customers who never eat out except through delivery, and you’ll get valuable exposure through the in-app recommendations.
Do the right thing: Millennials are more likely than any other generation to base brand loyalty on outside factors like sustainability and charity involvement. Millennials are price elastic because can always find another option for the product or service you are selling, usually online. What they can’t always find is another company willing to put their money where their mouth is and use sustainable practices that promote environmental conservation and stewardship.
Treat your employees well: Starbucks has remained popular with millennials even though, on paper, it shouldn’t have. Starbucks is expensive, and the locations all look the same. Traditionally, these traits are not applauded by the largest generation. But Starbucks has built their brand around a company culture that takes care of its employees. Even part-time employees are given health care benefits. Flexible hours allow students to work around their schedules easily, and ongoing training is encouraged. Take a note out of Starbucks’ book and focus on not only customer satisfaction but employee appreciation.
Delight and surprise: All customers, regardless of their generation, like to be surprised and delighted by brands. In fact, the number one indicator of whether or not a customer will remain loyal to a brand is whether or not they feel they are treated well. Small surprises like comping a birthday meal, bringing an extra side of fries just because, or emailing coupons to your mailing list will go a long way. When you surprise millennials, you get more bang for your buck, as they are more likely to share their experience on social media, and they’re more likely to endorse your restaurant on their social channels.
The millennial generation is forcing every industry to stop it’s tried and true marketing methods and reevaluate everything. The millennials aren’t going anywhere, and if your brand doesn’t keep up, you will fall by the wayside. For more ways to turn Millennials into brand ambassadors, or to learn ways you can effectively market your restaurant to the largest market segment, contact Modern Promos today.
Our trained brand ambassadors can staff your next marketing event, and our team of professionals can develop a customized plan to put your restaurant on the millennial map.