Reaching Millennials to Improve Restaurant Traffic Growth and Loyalty

couple, dining, restaurant, deli case
Today, people have more choices than meal occasions. How do they choose?

Our recent national study on millennials and the dining decision provided some truly insightful takeaways:

  • Genuine customer loyalty and maximizing in-store opportunity are imperative to a brand’s short- and long-term success with this demographic.
  • Growing up with technology always within easy reach, millennials tend to view the world as “me-centric.” They’re accustomed to experiences built for specifically for them. Tweaking your customer interaction and marketing to cater to this mindset can pay big dividends.
  • Given the ever-increasing purchase power of Gen Y, a strong millennial customer base presents not just a challenge, but an exciting opportunity to reverse the no-growth trend. The key is to examine your tactics now, and change them if necessary to get ahead of the curve. Gain their trust and hold on tight.

Do you have your customers’ loyalty? We’re not talking about formalized loyalty programs here, but the genuine support and allegiance of your patrons. In the age of the millennial, loyalty is critical to growth in a no-growth category.

If you’re not sure you have their loyalty yet, consider a few ways you can earn it:

Experience and insights.

This may go without saying, but it’s imperative to provide the optimal experience for customers on every visit and to use every interaction to gain insights – insights you can use to surpass their expectations next time. Make each visit personal and meaningful, and while you’re at it, observe and listen. Watch how they interact with the physical restaurant and the staff, and when they have suggestions or criticisms, take them to heart.

Download the presentation of our national Millennial dinging study: Dining’s L-Shaped Change.

Flexibility

Ask yourself, is the restaurant flexible? Is the staff accommodating? Do you allow customizations to menu items? Will you split the check for large groups? Identify and remove all stopping points for the customer, to make the experience frictionless.

Marketing and operations fluidity

Use each visit to encourage more visits. In-store promotions and creative loyalty programs should be fresh, engaging and create value. Also, consider carefully how your operations and marketing teams are working together. Are they both on the same page? Are front-line personnel aware of promotions so they can inform the customer? Do your marketing plans offer creative ways for employees to deliver meaningful, shareable, frictionless visits? If it’s been a while since you evaluated your marketing tactics, there’s no better time than now.

The early bird gets the millennial

Our research showed that nearly 70% of millennials make the decision to dine at home or dine out in less than six hours. With such a limited timeframe, you must be opportunistic and work to create craving during the decision window. Mind the gap, and make it count.

Showcase your food

Create effective, drool-worthy imagery and entertaining messaging to draw in customers. Is your food indulgent? Embrace it! Show it off with an Instagram post or a tweet. Millennials are in touch with their guilty dining (and social media) pleasures. Don’t just “show the food” – show it off. Nowadays, two taps on Instagram tends to be the currency of the industry.

If your audience doesn’t come to you, go to them

Hit your customer during their decision-making process by utilizing media dayparting and geo-based targeting. Be there when it counts. Take full advantage of the efficiency and flexibility of the same digital tools millennials are already using.

It’s important not to look at Gen Y as an elusive unicorn. Get their attention (and dollars) by capitalizing on loyalty and opportunity. By taking these steps, you can develop high relative awareness for your restaurant. If you build (on) it, they will come.