- The Millennial Rise to Power - The world's most tech-savvy generation has taken over both the workforce and consumer base. According to www.MillennialMarketing.com, millennials make up 25% of the U.S. population and hold over a trillion dollars in buying power. This generation, more than any prior, is supportive of organic produce, farm-to-table operations, non-GMO foods, and companies who "stand for a cause." For more information on "What Millennials Want" from the foodservice industry read Full Service Restaurant Magazine's Article.
- Organic, Non-GMO, Cruelty Free Foods Take Precedent - With the millennial focus on these items, major companies like Chipotle, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut are scrapping their existing inventory for produce that aligns with the desires of the rising generation.
- Importance of Farm-to-Table and Locally Grown Produce - The new wave of consumers hitting the foodservice industry are looking for companies who support agriculture within their local community. Add value to your restaurant by purchasing produce from local farmers.
- Quick Service Operations in High Demand - Companies like Jimmy Johns, Qdoba, and Panera Bread have seen rapid growth in recent years due to increased consumer desire for a "quick bite" to eat. Full service restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings have also adapted a quick service mentality over lunch or breakfast to attract these niche customers. Whatever your foodservice operation may be, consider adding a quick service element to appeal to a larger audience.
- Convenience Store Foodservice Expansion - Consumers are beginning to look to convenience stores for meal options like never before. The increased demand for quick, inexpensive meals leads c-stores like Rutters and Sheetz to expand and improve foodservice operations to offer both grab and go and made to order options. In addition, c-stores are beginning to offer locally grown and organic produce to appeal to the growing segment of health-focused consumers. Contact Clark Convenience Store Products for expert advice on developing your c-store's foodservice operation.
- Breakfast is Booming - If you've watched TV within the last month you've surely noticed fast-food's increased marketing focus on breakfast. Quick Service Restaurants are taking advantage of the amplified demand for breakfast on the go, and so should you.
- The Growing Emphasis on Snack Time - The millennial generation has been described as "the generation that eats all day long" by parents and industry experts alike. Meal times are no longer confined to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, nor should your menu offerings. Offering snack-size portions at off times can help you take advantage of this growing trend.
- Appetizers Become Meals - In addition to the increased demand for snacks, consumers are beginning to prefer multiple snack size portions over single large entrees. Consider increasing your appetizer menu and offering pick-two or pick-three options to appeal to customers looking for a diverse food experience.
- The Gluten Free Trend Continues - According to DelightGlutenFree.com 31 million Americans are gluten-intolerant. Gluten-free sales have risen dramatically to over $10 billion in sales in the last five years. If you are not providing gluten-free items at your foodservice operation, it is time to start.
- Food Sharing on Social Media is at an All-Time High - Most of us have heard of the term "Food Porn." For those who haven't, we aren't discussing any NSFW topics here so don't go rushing to the X button. According to UrbanDictionary.com, Food Porn is "close-up images of juicy, delicious food in advertisements." Food sharing over social media is at an all time high in today's society and many consumers look to reviews from their peers when choosing their next food destination. Be aware that the appearance and quality of your menu items will be shared with hundreds, thousands, even millions of consumers , so prepare accordingly.
- The Craft Beer Movement - For the first time in history, craft beer brewers hold a double digit share of the market place at 11% according to the Brewers Association. With craft beer's increasing popularity it is important to diversify your restaurant's beer selection with local craft brews. Craft beer's are often more flavorful that your typical domestic beers and pair well with specific food items. Make sure to suggest a craft beer that goes best with your featured dish to increase sales. For more information on how to pair beer with food items read WebstaurantStore.com's Article on "Beer and Food Pairing".
- Sustainability and Going Green Take Center Stage - Environmental sustainability and "going green" are two of the largest concerns for current generations. Studies show consumers are more likely to support a business dedicated to protecting the environment. According to Tork, 56% of adults 18-34 are willing to pay more for products if they come from ethically and environmentally responsible organizations.
- Focus on Technology - As the most technology savvy generation in history gains buying power, it is important to focus on innovations that interest them. A basic rule of thumb is to incorporate technology wherever possible. Foodservice operations have begun to include tablet menu's, touchscreen tables, mobile-ordering apps, and most importantly, free WiFi accessibility. In addition to attracting new customers, technology can also help make your operation more efficient.
- Allow for Greater Customization - Millennials are certainly not a "one size fits all" generation especially when it comes to their food choices. Make sure your menu and kitchen staff are flexible with adding and subtracting ingredients as the most diverse generation calls for these options.
- Increasing Demand for Delivery Services - Millennials are the most delivery focused generation to date according to Matt Hartwell; Account Manager at Dashed. According to Matt, people are busier than ever and value the convenience of having a restaurant quality meal delivered to them. With an increased demand for delivery, full service restaurants are partnering with companies like Dashed to make delivery available without having to add delivery drivers to their staff.
Written by: Tilghman Grandstaff
Edited by: Emily Shuler