The smart phone revolution is on, and the millennials are immersed on it.
We use the word immersion—not connection, attachment, nor association to smart phones, but immersion. Today’s consumers, the millennials most especially, are immersed—soaked, swamped, gone under, captivated with their use of smart phones. Not only are they using it for texts and calls, but also for surfing, emailing, tweeting, Facebooking (right, this is a word now), checking out review sites and making dinner reservations. It’s the last thing they hold before they sleep and the first thing they look at when they wake up.
When a group of millennials start planning to eat out, they’ll decide which restaurant to go to by first reaching for their smart phone and check their options. After seeing some choices and the restaurant’s user ratings, they’ll check the location, see if it’s accessible, then go to the restaurant’s website to check on the menus and special offerings, just like how they would go about in checking the menus in great menu covers of onsite restaurants.
So let’s say that after much discussion, they opted to go to the nearest Subway restaurant. Once they walk into a Subway store, while in line waiting for their turn to order, they’ll once again reach for their smart phone and start browsing, this time to check which one has more calories—the Black Forest Ham Sandwich or the Subway Melt. They might also go to Subway’s Facebook page to check if there are some coupon codes and discounts they can perhaps use that day.
Millennials, consumers between ages 11 and 34 or those born from 1977 to 2000, indeed have an intense love affair with technology. They are the digital natives, those who grew up surrounded by new technology around them—their zeal for technology is not just a life-stage fad, but a part of their very existence.
And it’s not just them—smart phone ownership is said to rise steadily, going beyond the millennial generation. There’s been an ongoing talk that smart phone ads will soon surpass television ads, and marketers are estimating that there are more than 91 million U.S. consumers who will use the internet through a mobile devise by the end of this year, higher than the 77.8 million statistics two years ago.
Restaurants should then be able to make themselves accessible to these mobile users—make themselves searchable in search engines (you can read our article. Millennials, as we have pointed out earlier, would certainly search a restaurant first through their smart phones. All necessary information should be at Google maps and Google Places. Reviews that accompany these search engine’s results should also be managed (we have tips on how to do so), since customers are sure to check, and be influenced. Restaurants just need to make sure that what’s online is consistent with what they have onsite; such as their menus in elegant menu covers—the price and food features should be the same as what they have on the internet.
Optimized websites are highly necessary—if a restaurant’s website is extensively Flash-based, with weighty downloads and complex mood-setting elements, it’s time to re-think the strategy. They should try coming up with a more mobile-friendly version, something that is workable on miniature screens and with lesser download time.
Sending messages, regularly connecting with customers and offering coupons and discounts should be part of any restaurant’s mobile marketing strategy. Email is said to be making a comeback, having recuperated from its spammy past. Smart phones have been programmed to make email sifting easier, and as long as consumers opt to receive them, the use of emails should be maximized by all restaurants who want to push for higher sales.
Everyone is now mobile, and if restaurants can make themselves as handy (read: accessible, convenient, at hand) as a smart phone, they’re surely on the road to a better and more profitable 2012.