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The Ultimate Guide to Millennial Diners

How to Attract and Keep Millennials Coming In

Did you know millennials are now the largest group within the workforce? With that comes a huge spending power! And with that spending power has come a culture and lifestyle that includes dining out.

From avocado toast and ramen to salads and juices, it is certainly true that Millennials are spending more than any other generation dining out. Your restaurant has the opportunity to learn and tailor your business based on the preferences and values of the demographic that has overtaken baby boomers as the largest! So here it is, straight from a millennial's mouth, here are six important considerations if you are aiming to increase millennial diners:




Millenials want to hear it and see it from our peers, and ser-generated social content plays an important role in this. From Yelp reviews to Instagram posts, Millennials take to the internet to learn which restaurants we should try next. Rather than relying on traditional (and often outdated) outlets to learn, millennials pull out their phone and with a few taps, pick their next meal. This has implications for restaurants and should shape how you go about communicating.

Looking at this more in depth, Instagram is the shining star and hub for millennials. According to Instagram, of its 250 million users, users under 25 spend more than 32 minutes a day, and users older than 25 spend more than 24 minutes on the app. That’s a good chunk of time spent with eyes on the app, but what does this mean for your restaurant?

Using Instagram’s popularity to your benefit comes into play in two parts, both your restaurant’s social presence as well as the posts from your customers: 

Your Restaurant’s Online Presence

A steady stream of high-quality photos is a good foundation for any restaurant. When searching out the next place to meet friends for dinner, your Instagram feed helps diners imagine themselves in your restaurant.

Use Instagram to highlight photos of your menu offerings, establishment, and your team. Instagram is a great platform to show “behind the scene” elements from your establishment to help your customers feel more connected.

Here are a few other tips to improve your social presence:

  • Have the best donuts in town? Use relevant #hashtags to make your business searchable, so when a hungry diner is on the hunt for the best #donuts around, they’ll head right to you.
  • There’s a holiday for everything! Get in on the fun and create a featured special, snap a photo, and post it on your site to attract all of the folks wanting to celebrate.

Tip! If all of this sounds like a lot of work, go straight to the source; hire a college student to intern as your part-time Social Media Coordinator. Employing a social-savvy college student benefits your business, ensuring relevant content and gives them valuable experience in management. Win-win.

A Social Community

After your social media efforts have brought customers in, you can use a few practices to encourage your customers to engage and post about their experience, extending your social presence:

  • Make sure to create a Location page on Instagram for your restaurant so users can instantly tag you in their pictures.
  • There’s no denying it, Instagram is pushing restaurants to be visually irresistible. Staying on trend with current interior design trends or going all-in on a kitschy theme has become a driving factor in the restaurants’ popularity. A few simple updates to décor or a complete remodel take investment but can pay off.
  • Attractive or fun food presentations encourage your customers to snap a picture and post it to their accounts. Some of the most popular food posts are those that are unique or quirky.

 Yelp Reviews Matter

Yelp is another important platform to focus on. You want your reviews to reflect the best of your business because when hungry diners are out looking for their next meal, Yelp is a common starting place according to Yelp, 18 to 34-year-olds comprise the largest group of users. To reach this group, you can employ a few tactics to encourage a consistent flow of reviews:

  • Place a sign in your establishment. You can get a Find Us On Yelp sticker here!
  • Offer check-in deals. Yelp makes it easy to set up discounts for customers who check-in to your location!

Tip! Check out this blog on the value of Instagram for more on using Instagram to your business’ advantage.


Quality of Food

Serve up healthy food

Remember the push to remove MSG from products? Well 20 years later, Millennials have moved this further and have pushed for healthy ingredients to be served at everything from quick service to sit-down table service restaurants.

This is clearly evident in the rise of fast-casual salad chains. Seizing the want for a healthy and reasonably priced meal, salad and produce based chains have become more prevalent from coast to coast and abroad.

What can your business learn from this? The quality of food matters. Integrate healthy options into your menu if you don’t currently offer them. Millennials, and the population as a whole, are craving these options, so tailor your menu accordingly.

In addition to there being an importance placed on healthy food, there is a growing focus on food having a small footprint. That means using locally grown food as much as possible. Get to know local farmers and use local products whenever possible.

SaladStop!, for example, maintains a 72-hour policy. All produce travel from earth to table in less than 72 hours, ensuring local and the freshest of produce. For SaladStop!, this value is a strong point of differentiation that they use as a part of their brand and marketing.

Tip! If you are selling local food, let it be known! There are networks and directories that feature businesses that are committed to local, make sure your business is listed. A sign in your restaurant tells your customers, too!


The TOMS Effect

Millennials have grown up with corporate social responsibility and sustainability as necessary business practices. One of the most notable examples of this is TOMS Shoes, which began selling shoes in the early 2000s with the commitment to gift One for One to a child in need for every pair purchased. TOMS emphasized the idea of giving back as a critical piece of its business plan, and this philosophy shook up the business world.

Following suit, many brands and businesses adopted similar practices. This promise to give back was and still is one of the biggest driving forces behind the success of the relatively simple shoes. Millennials, who grew up during this time period, appreciate, if not expect a certain level of philanthropy from the businesses they support.

Your restaurant has an opportunity to support the community through actions big or small:

  • Do what you do best, feed the hungry in your community
  • Get involved with food-based charities – No Kid Hungry or Feeding America are two to look into
  • Organize a fundraiser or food drive to raise funds and food for a local organization

Tip! Round-up for charity is a great way to get your customers involved in giving back and shows your commitment to giving back. So choose a non-profit organization to support and start giving back! Revel makes it easy to set this up on your POS.


Offer Customization

I’ll admit it, I got a participation trophy or two during my elementary school days, and with that trophy came with a sense of entitlement, so they say.  While I’m not so sure about that, I am sure that I want to create a burrito bowl that has the exact ingredients I want – entitled much, I know.

For whatever the real reason is, millennials love building their own meals, which is exactly why restaurants of all kinds have begun to follow the “build your own” model. From pizza to salad, and even burgers; restaurants are integrating an element of customization into the menu. If your restaurant has a rigid menu, think about how you can incorporate customization into your offerings.

Tip! Another thing to take note of; many “build your own” style restaurants have a flat price model, if you’re charging for every change or add-on, it may be time to think about how you price your offerings. With Revel, your menu can accommodate one add-on or 15! Learn how to add modifiers to create custom menus. 


Mobile Friendly = Millennial Friendly

Millennials grew up with mobile devices and phones are nearly an extension of their being. As phones have gotten smarter, they are becoming a tool that is used for virtually every facet of life. To accommodate that, there are several things your business can do:

  • Mobile devices have surpassed desktop devices, it’s just not enough to have a website anymore, now it’s important to have a mobile-friendly restaurant website to reach your target audience
  • Enable your customers to pay with their phones. By offering flexible payment options, your business has the ability to accommodate those who prefer ApplePay or NFC payments.
  • Want to keep millennials in your business? Wifi, available outlets, and mobile charging stations work to encourage a longer stay
  • Online ordering is an addition that opens your business open to more customers. Let your busy diners order ahead and drop by your restaurant to pick up dinner on the go


Remain Authentic

While it may not be possible to implement each of these into your restaurant, it is important to understand millennial thinking. Pull the elements that make sense and are doable in your situation, and your restaurant will align with the values that are important to Millennials.

Authenticity is important as well, and we can sniff out when something is forced or inauthentic. Above all, have fun and explore the right path for your business to attract Millennials.


In Conclusion

If you want your restaurant to be current, better yet, ahead of the competition, staying in the know of what matters to your potential customers is important. Taking this information, and using the relevant pieces within your business is a smart way to connect with this important demographic. Again, stay true to your business’ values use these suggestions as you strategize bringing more millennial customers into your establishment!