The Millennial Challenge and Opportunity

In an age of generations that can "kill an industry", it is becoming more and more important to understand not only how Millennial consumership is changing the economy as a whole but also how a restaurant can adapt to what this generation wants and needs at a variety of levels. After all, despite some notable reports of losses across the industry, Millennials spend more of their food dollars on eating out than any previous generation. So, what do they want?

They want to know what's in their food. While customization may not be an absolute necessity, it's important that either the menu or the waitstaff be able to communicate what's in the food - and this includes the hot button allergens like nuts and shellfish to diet-specific ingredients like gluten, dairy, and soy. Consider labeling items that qualify as vegetarian, vegan or paleo as an additional way to cater to specific eating habits. 

They want to be able to control their spending. With nearly half their food spending going to dining out, it's not that this generation wants to avoid restaurants but rather that they want to be able to see where their money is going. Consider your menu - would that $12 appetizer be just as easily ordered as three smaller dishes at $4 each? Could sides and entrees be ordered separately, perhaps advertised as "family style" for sharing? Small changes that may not effect the entire spread, but allow customers to spend money on precisely what they want to eat makes the ordering and spending more controlled. As an additional bonus, there will potentially be less food waste and better analytics for which dishes sell the best!

They want to eat, but they also want to hang out. While we may not think of your average fast-casual restaurant as the new corner diner, for many Millennials they serve the same purpose. Offering alcohol and creating spaces that foster conversation and comfort are key to making your spot a gathering place for the younger crowd. Fast-casual also eliminates the pressure of waitstaff hovering, so make sure that while table rotation may be a focus when there's a line, the longer your customers are there the more welcome they'll feel-and, with any luck, the more they'll order. 

When online, think outside the Yelp box. While a good Yelp review or three is priceless online currency, don't discount the dozens of other online resources available to the dining industry. Have a great takeout menu? Investigate a partnership with a delivery service like GrubHub, Eat24, or UberEats. Do your offerings include monthly tastings or themed events? Having a Facebook page to promote the events increases your audience exponentially. And don't forget the basics - having hours, dress code, and menu easily accessible on sites like Facebook and Google increases the likelihood that you'll pick up new customers who are already using the internet for most of their daily tasks already. 

Looking for innovative solutions to help capture the Millennial dollar? Contact us to talk about tools to increase your appeal and impact. #WaiterWallet #UltimateSeverBook

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Waiter Wallet Jr. Deluxe

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