marketing to millennials

We’ve officially entered into, what the Financial Times has dubbed: ‘the millennial moment’.

Times are-a-changing, and people born in the years of 1981 and 1996 are beginning to take over the workforce as previous generations, like the baby boomers, edge into retirement.

In 2017, millennial’s became the largest generation in the UK workforce and currently make up over a quarter of the UK population with numbers steadily growing (Inkling 2015). Now you may be asking yourself: What does this have to do with me and my restaurant? To put it bluntly: everything. Let me explain:

Millennials are one of the main drivers of the experience economy—over  half of UK millennials saying they would rather spend money on an experience rather than a possession (Inkling 2015)—and one experience they don’t mind splashing a bit of extra cash on is dining out. According to BBC Good Food, millennial’s weekly spend on food is higher than that of their older and wealthier cohorts despite the fact that a majority of them currently inhabit a lower financial bracket.

eating out

With that being said they won’t be there for long. According to a study conducted by Deloitte Insights, by 2030 millennials will have amassed nearly 31 percent of the United Kingdom’s total net wealth; meaning investing in marketing your restaurant to millennials now is one of the safest investments you can make in your brands future.

At this point, the benefits of marketing to millennials may seem obvious—or at least I hope they do; however, while the concept is straightforward in theory, its practice tends to get a bit murkier. Millennials are a large and diverse group scattered across a wide spectrum of cultural and financial demographics, political views, tastes and preferences; thus, it is very challenging to pin down their needs. An additional hurdle comes from the fact that most millennials have a very decentralised mindset, meaning they don’t blindly follow social norms. They ask questions and conduct research to develop their opinions, making it very difficult for brands to retain millennial customers by simply relying on their laurels. You’ve got to put in some work; however, the flipside of this is that millennials are willing to be swayed by new information and once they find a brand they identify with they are extremely loyal.

To make the millennial minefield a little easier to navigate, I’ve put together 5 simple steps for marketing to millennials:

1. Take a stand on something, anything!

I know, I know, traditionally taking a stand on a political or social issue has been regarded as bad business, but hear me out. Millennials engage in political action more than any generation and the causes they support are becoming more and more important to their personal identities to the extent that 40% of millennials said that they are willing to pay more for a brand that reflects the images that they want to convey about themselves to others (Forbes)

It doesn’t have to be anything controversial. It can be as simple as taking steps towards sustainability or supporting a local charity, just make sure whatever it is it’s authentic. Which brings me to my next point:

2. Be genuine and transparent

Millennials are seeking genuine, transparent conversation and interaction with the brands they support. Basically, they want to be buddies and expect brands to emulate the same values they would look for in a potential friend: humbleness, maturity, sociability and truthfulness.

One way to implement this into your marketing strategy is to be completely honest about what’s going on in the background and where your values and priorities lie. If you stretch the truth, even just a little, odds are customers will find out and your brand will find itself in the midst of a PR nightmare. It is the internet age after all.

Try sharing behind the scenes information on what your company is working on, sharing photos of staff or work events is a sure-fire way to humanize your company in the eyes of consumers.

3. Respond quickly with bespoke responses

This one’s just good customer service, plain and simple. You’d be surprised, a little goes a long way.

4. Post User Generated Content (UGC) and sell the dream

As a whole, millennials are more educated than previous generations and less trusting of traditional advertising. They value the opinions of their peer group (whether in real life or online) over the claims being sold to them in adverts.

According to a Voxburner study, 72% of millennials said that they only adopt a brand or product after they have seen their friends benefiting or if they have seen obvious benefit; so, give them some proof!

5. Make it interesting and inspire them to act

Millennials define themselves by their creativity and want to feel as though they are adding to the conversation—over half of 16-34 year olds want to be able to interact with content posted by brands and ,despite being generally distrusting of mainstream media, 60% of UK millennials will engage with content that interests them even if it’s obvious that it’s been paid for by a brand (Voxburner) (Inkling).

Try opening up the dialogue and appeal to their inner creators: ask open ended questions on social media, play with polls, launch some competitions. Play around and see what yields the best results.

Now by no means am I suggesting restaurants focus your marketing efforts solely on millennials—especially if they aren’t your target demographic—I mean baby boomers still hold around 80% of the world’s wealth and it’s going to take a bit of time for all that capital to trickle down. However, as anyone in business will tell you, it’s important to plan for the future and, whether you’re ready or not, the future is millennials.


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