From the Archives: Restaurant Marketing to Millennials 101

iStock_000021725832XLargeHow important are Millennials in your restaurant marketing strategy?

With more than 80 million people born between 1977 and the mid 1990’s in the United States, Millennials are said to be the most influential audience since the baby boomers.  In fact, according to the National Restaurant Association, “Millennials—also known as Generation Y and Generation Now—are a large and diverse market with significant spending power.” Confident, expressive, optimistic, and ready to change the world. Millennials are a group that think and behave different from other generations.

As a restaurant owner, you might consider it a priority to better understand this generation. And how they make decisions on where to spend their money. According to the NRA, “Restaurant marketers can’t underestimate their relationship with technology. Millennials use social and mobile media to collect most advice, including where they should dine.”

So let’s take a closer look at some of the values that help restaurant operators build trust, engagement and generate sales with Millennials:

Connection, connection, connection

In a time where the preferred interaction has become short but sweet, Millennials crave connection. Millennials want to connect with their peers, and with their favorite brands—on a regular basis. But they want to do so on their own terms, and authentically.  And try to find a millennial without a smartphone: connection and technology go hand in hand.

Social responsibility

Millennials are very aware of their social responsibility. They tend to ask themselves how their actions impact others and the world around them. As a result, they are attracted to brands and marketing promotions that tie in environmental causes and community involvement. Or a charity that benefits people they know or relate to.

Simply individual

Gone are the days of conformity. An inherent desire for individuality has led to a diverse population among Millennials. This is a generation that wants to be acknowledged for their individuality, and to express their opinions about their preferences. Personalization, choice, and feedback tools reap rewards with Millennials.


Why so serious? Millennials just wanna have fun! According to Hubspot, in a phenomenon called “Fauxsumerism,” Millennials enjoy the experience of e-commerce or online “window shopping,” without actually making purchases. They shop online for entertainment as well as commerce. That has big implications to consider in the design of your mobile ordering interface. Is it easy and fun to order from you?

And how else do these characteristics translate in terms of restaurant marketing? According to the NRA, one of Millennials’ top picks for dining out is pizza. Knowing that their desire for connection—and mobile connectivity—drives brand loyalty, how do you create loyalty to your pizza brand?

Mobile interfaces and social media are the easiest ways to reach Millennial guests. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook hit all the hot points with Millennials, allowing them to share, collaborate, gather information. And have fun doing it.

Try some of these ideas in your social media marketing to ramp up your “brand appeal” with Millennials:

  • Post pictures, and have fun with them.
  • Make it a contest: ask guests to share photos of themselves enjoying your food.
  • Embed video content, such as how-to’s or interviews with happy customers.
  • Use trending hashtags to attract new Millennial viewers to your mobile content.
  • Ask guests to weigh in, and post their favorite pizza or topping.
  • Donate or support a cause in your community, and share the impact with your followers.
  • Reward word of mouth recommendations via social channels.
  • Design a campaign where “sharing,” “liking” or “retweeting” earn a contest entry.

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