What Restaurants should know about Appealing to Generational Differences

Most restaurants hope to attract customers of every age and generation. That said, appealing to people of all ages requires appealing to a vast variety of different values and expectations. Given that the restaurant industry is only expected to grow some 4% over the course of the next ten years, it’s critical to reexamine generational differences and shift your marketing tactics accordingly in order to find opportunities for growth.

What Restaurants should know about Appealing to the Millennial Generation

Millennials are born between 1977 and 1992. As of 2013, they are between 20-35 years old. Numbering more than 68 million people, this is the group that has been hardest hit by the recession with more than 16% of those under the age of 25 unemployed. As a result, more than 40% reported cutting back on eating out due to financial reasons. Given that this group was historically one of the strongest patrons of the restaurant industry, this represents a significant loss and finding ways to bring them back into your establishment is crucial.

Fortunately, appealing to the Millennial generation can be done fairly easily. Not surprisingly, they are drawn to deals, coupons, and discounts more than any other group. They also respond very well to happy hours and home delivery options and are more likely to choose locally-owned, independent, sit-down restaurants than any other age group. They grew up with the Internet and are most likely to use all forms of technology to research and connect with restaurants.

What Restaurants need to know about Appealing to Generation X

Gen-Xers were born between 1966 and 1976 and as of 2013, are between 36-46 years old. Nearly 90% of this generation is employed. This is the group that is most likely to have children at home and be squarely in the midst of trying to balance work and family life. As a result, they now frequent restaurants more than Millennials and are big users of take-out food.

Time and efficiency is important to this group, as is spending quality time with their kids. As a result, providing easy, convenient, kid-friendly options in your restaurant with minimal wait times is what is going to appeal to this generation the most. The hallmark of Generation X is pragmatism and practicality, so marketing messages that are straight-forward and direct are what will resonate with this generation.

What Restaurants should know about Appealing to the Baby Boomer Generation

Baby Boomers are those individuals born between 1946-1965, and will be between the ages of 47-66 as of 2013. With over 82 million people, this is the largest generation with the biggest buying power. Consumers in this generation tend to spend more per visit than younger generations and have a much higher per capita visit rate. This group tends to place a larger emphasis on having healthy eating options, and they don’t think they should have to pay more for those options. Value to the Boomer generation means things like fresh, high-quality ingredients and the ability to have choices such as portion size, substitutions, etc.

Baby Boomers are more tech-savvy than they often get credit for, and are more than capable of utilizing the web to research and evaluate restaurants prior to visiting, so it’s important to keep your website up to date with your most current specials and promotions.

While there are similarities between the values of the different generations, there are key differences as well that are important to keep in mind when designing your marketing messages. The ideal is to find the sweet spot between catering to the values of the individual group while still meeting the needs of every generation who might walk through your door.

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