Millennial Dining Trends to Watch Out for
Demographics change with time, and keeping in tune with generational trends is an important part of staying ahead in the London restaurant property agency industry, for both landlords and operators.
Here, we examine a generation growing in purchasing power and confidence, looking at what Millennials want from their dining experience.
Who are the Millennials?
Roughly 20% of the UK’s population is from Generation Y: those born between the 80s and the early 00s. So from teenagers spending pocket-money on the weekend, to young professionals finding somewhere to relax after work, this generation is a broad, hungry market that restaurateurs should be targeting.
This is especially obvious when we consider that by 2020, Millennials will be 75% of the UK work force and so will wield huge spending power in the restaurant and leisure markets. It is crucial therefore that everyone in the industry, from agents and landlords to operators and executive chefs, understands this emerging demographic.
One trend of Millennials is their desire for speed. For nearly half of them, speed of service is the most important thing when eating out for breakfast and lunch.
This need for speedy service can be explained by two factors. The first is Millennials’ current position in the career arc. In intern, junior or lower management positions, Millennials are dashing out to grab lunch and need it given to them quickly.
The second is that children of the 90s and 00s are used to technology making their experience of purchasing services and products efficient and fast. In their eyes, there’s no reason this trend shouldn’t be extended to food.
Millennials largely expect technology to be part of their dining experience and paying with your phone is becoming increasing popular: and not just in restaurants. 40% of E-commerce sales are made via mobile devices, and you can now pay for the tube with your phone.
It is no surprise then that there are already a plethora of apps which let you pay your restaurant bill with your phone. TabbedOut, Dash and Cake are fighting it out to be the top payment app, and catering for this trend is a must for operators looking to attract millennial diners.
How to appeal to Generation Y
Millennials are famously hard to market to due to a range of subversions and seeming contradictions within their beliefs and attitudes.
Something that makes attracting the millennial generation especially tricky is that even though they are much more aware of advertising and marketing than previous generations, 66% prefer outlets that are active on social media.
This means that operators can’t afford to stay quiet on social media, but also that they can’t afford to get it wrong. To attract the cohort, they must both be on social media and putting out engaging, relevant content as opposed to obvious or ‘salesy’ marketing campaigns.
Health-Conscious – not Healthy
Generation Y are attracted to operations with a focus on health and wellbeing. This doesn’t necessarily mean brands with food you could eat every day and be healthy, but rather brands showing health-consciousness or demonstrating a desire to improve animal or producer wellbeing are doing well with Millennials.
For example, successful Shoreditch Fast-Casual Bird appeals to Millennials with their “free range and fried” motto. Wagamama is another restaurant whose food is not weight-loss friendly, but who appeal to health-conscious Millennials by offering “Fresh, lively food (with soul)”.
The focus here is words like “fresh”, “free range”, “whole foods” and “locally sourced”. They are symptomatic of a generation who are more into the idea of ‘natural’ food than what science says is strictly healthy.
Compared to Baby Boomers, Millennials think differently about what healthy food really is. They aren’t nearly as concerned with things being sugar-free, or having no artificial ingredients, but are almost twice as concerned that their food is organic and good for the environment.
Natural Kitchen is a good example of a chain that is making the most of this customer preference. With five sites across central London, they value freshness and ‘provenance’ or, being able to say exactly where each ingredient was grown. They buy all their food daily from New Spitalfields Market, ticking Millennials desire for locally sourced food, too.
Another brand locking onto the desire for local produce is Smiths of Smithfield, who use their historic meat-market location to sell British-bred, quality meats. They list all their suppliers online, even down to the farm name.
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