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Communication Is Key (And 4 Other Insights About Millennial Diners)

This post originally appeared on the Swipely Blog, by Theresa Navarra.  Visit Swipely to find additional insights and content for restaurant owners, to help make better decisions and grow your business.


What would you do to get the attention and business of one-fourth of the population?

Our guess is that you’d probably go to great lengths to learn as much as you could about them: what do they like to eat, where do they spend their time, how much money are they willing to spend, how loyal are they? 

Who Are The Millennials?

Totaling at nearly 80 million, or one-fourth of the population, the millennials are the subject of many discussions, including this one. Raised in a world where the Internet was always available and cell phones meaning constant communication, this generation is a self-expressive, multi-tasking force to be reckoned with. They don’t fear change, in fact they embrace it, and they’re not afraid to tell you how they feel or what they want– usually using technology.

Successful marketers know that you can’t underestimate their relationship with technology and with each other – in fact, they value communication and connectivity in all aspects of their lives – including dining choices.

When it comes to this generation, here’s what you need to know:

  • 51% of millennials will share information with companies for an incentive
  • Only 6% of this generation thinks online advertising is credible; however, 66% follow companies on social media for coupons and discounts
  • 95% of millennials trust word of mouth from their friends as the most credible source of information

What’s the takeaway here?

Millennials value communication. They value social interactions, and if you want them in your restaurant, you’ll just communicate with them – inside of your restaurant and out of it.

Dining Equals A Social Event

After talking to them, you’ll learn that dining is not just about the restaurant menu or the server taking their order – it’s a social event.

  • They prefer restaurants with lots of choices
  • Ethnic choices are on their radar because of their willingness to try new things
  • They are loyal but they can be flexible

As with any social event, connectivity and communication is key. Online and off, before, during and after, you need to be communication with them and showing them how social your place can be.

Develop A Loyal Relationship (In 4 Easy Steps)

Now that you know connectivity and communication is key, how will you use that to your advantage? The solution to that is at your fingertips. Literally. Get on the phone or the computer and connect with them.

When it comes to the “how to” for that, the word is “social”:

  1. Get Social: Does your brand have a Facebook page? It’s time to use it as more than just a placeholder for your address. Consider offering special deals, posting menu specials, and asking guests to throw a good review on your page after a meal. This generation touches their phones 45 times a day, and it’s usually to check Facebook.
  2. Be Social: Aside from integrating your restaurant on social media, you’ll also want to integrate millennials into your restaurant’s culture. This generation is incredibly loyal, so show them you’re loyal to them to by catering to some of their dining needs (Healthy options, locally sourced food, eccentric menu items, and large tables and the ability to book reservations are just a few of their social dining desires).
  3. Go Beyond Social: Social media is often used a speaker box. Go one step further and build relationships. Facebook isn’t the only way, either. Try posting some menu items on Instagram and take it one step further and search for those who have done that while dining and thank them for coming in the comments.
  4. Ask Them To Be Social: This isn’t a one-way relationship, and millennials know this. In fact, they are more likely than any generation before them to post (and trust) reviews online. Encourage your servers to ask them to go ahead and leave feedback on social media platforms such as Yelp or Facebook if they’ve enjoyed their experience.

What other tactics have you found to be successful in marketing to and gaining the customer loyalty of millennials? Do you have insights inside your restaurant that help you? 

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