Yes, we really do need to talk about the millennial generation again. So much has been said about millennials as a demographic and statistical profile the past years, especially in the marketing perspective. Almost every business is out to get them, they being the primary or secondary audience for 75% of all marketers around the globe.
And we do need to know what makes them tick. The restaurant industry has made several studies and findings about this generation in the recent months, having established factual evidences that show a few of their characteristics and eating habits—such as their love for value and variety in restaurant food, as reflected in the restaurant’s menu and inexpensive menu folders; how they bank on word of mouth advertising when they choose the restaurants to dine; and that they are the most frequent visitors of restaurants for lunch meals, which has been found to be the most popular part of the day in restaurants.
And now, in a recent conference titled “Share. Like. Buy,” industry specialists emphasize the fact that marketing to the millennial generation is not just about age. “Reaching them is more about tapping into a specific frame of mind,” said the vice president of Sonic Corp., Danielle Vona, in its keynote presentation during the conference, which was held in San Francisco.
They presented insights into the generation’s way of thinking in a study called “American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation.” The study, built on a survey made on 3,896 consumers who are in ages 16 to 34, says that millennials are generally fond of ultramodern technology and like to be delineated by their fervor on the things they love. They find eating fast food and snacks irresistible, and they view dining out as a social event. They believe that they are living healthfully, despite the fact that they tend to indulge on weekends. And almost all of them are very astute networkers – they are all into Facebook.
“This age group spends an approximate of $78 billion dining out in restaurants, and is 52 million strong. They are now stepping into their most rampant foodservice years,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD Group restaurant industry analyst. “Now is the perfect time for restaurant operators to find ways to reach them. Since about 18% of millennials are Hispanic and about 14% are African-American, restaurants now have a huge opportunity for menu innovation, as can be reflected in their menus and menu folders.”
The millennial generation, also known by so many other names, like Generation Y, Generation Next, Net Generation or Echo Boomers, is generally marked by marketing experts by their increased use and expertise with media, digital technologies and communications. This familiarity with new technology leads them to communicate differently and have the tendency to have shorter attention spans. They are said to love brands, but distrust all out marketing.
A research released last year by Washington, D.C.’s Pew Research Center showed that millennials are generally more confident, full of optimism and cheerfulness, and open to change. They are typically attuned to their surroundings and to its ever-changing landscape. They have cell phones, and only a few of them own landlines; they are more racially and ethnically diverse than the older generation, and also less religious. They search for information and news in real-time and they love information-sharing.
Taking all this in context, how do restaurants reach out to this desired market?
Restaurant operators’ marketing efforts should be able to answer the following questions: is your marketing message direct and clear? Does the marketing effort reflect the diversity of the millennials? Are your avenues for disseminating your marketing message in tune with your tech-savvy audience? Restaurants should integrate the strategies suggested in these questions and, taking into consideration the other important marketing trends in the industry today, succeed in capturing the millennials in their vicinity.