With today’s uber-focus on food transparency and higher quality ingredients, Millennials are gravitating toward unlikely destinations – Fast Food and Quick Service Restaurants like Chipotle and Baja Fresh.
One of the reasons may be simply seeing what they are getting with their own eyes. Having food prepared in front of them, where the fresh looking ingredients are right there to examine could be the reason why 71% of millennials prefer quick service restaurants to casual dining. One thing that has become abundantly clear is that we want to know (or at least see) exactly what is in our food.
The mystery of what happens behind the closed doors of the restaurant kitchen is not in with this crowd.
And there’s more. We can’t discount the illusion of customization as they go down an assembly line to pick only the ingredients they want. Its’ a fun part of the experience! And I personally love the fact that if I go to places like Sweet Green or Beefsteak, I don’t need to pick little tiny onions out of my salad one by one.
That doesn’t mean that there’s no hope for Casual dining chains.
They just need to really pay attention to what Millennials (and therefore most other consumer groups) are asking for and make the experience more relevant and modern.
Here are some thoughts for casual dining chains wanting to win over Millennials. (and their kids)
Give us a peek into what’s going on behind the scenes. Can we see into your kitchen? Is there a way to showcase some of your fresh ingredients? What about a modern take on the salad bar? Maybe eliminate the cottage cheese and canned veggies and add some ingredients from local farms. Healthy doesn’t mean what it used to this generation, they want food to be ‘fresh’ and less processed.
Make your menu relevant and more customizable
Give consumers some control over their orders by giving them some options. We know they love to customize, so why not let them pick from a variety of fresh ingredients on your menu. And maybe add some language to the descriptions about where the food comes from and what’s actually in it.
Millennials (and everyone else) love to be rewarded for being loyal to a brand. 96% of millennials are using a restaurant’s loyalty program. Starbucks gets it. They’ve got their loyal consumers pre-buying coffees by loading money onto their Starbucks app. When you really think about it, it’s pretty genius. Restaurants can do the same. Incentivize Millennial families to become brand advocates by comping them a free meal, or doing something for their kids that’s consistent with their beliefs. That may go a lot further than offering them coupons.
Millennials really just want what we all want – evidence from brands that they’re being understood and heard. It’s a relatively small shift for brands, but the rewards can be huge.