bg
close
close
INDUSTRIES
CAPABILITIES
NAVIGATE YOUR CONTENT

SELECT YOUR TOPICS
AND PRESS GO

Serving Up What Millennials Want: How Quick Service and Fast Casual Restaurants Can Gain Their Loyalty

Millennials may have grown up dining in quick service and fast casual restaurants, otherwise known as QSRs, but now that they’re making their own choices, the experience they want isn’t the same as what their parents favored. The industry now faces the challenge of attracting, engaging and retaining the loyalty of these coveted consumers, who bring their generation’s distinctive values to the table.

QSRs and fast casual restaurants that succeed at winning the hearts and stomachs of millennials can earn some of the impressive $1.3 trillion in discretionary spending power wielded by this group of 80 million people. Discerning the millennials’ mindset and aligning marketing and advertising accordingly is essential to creating and maintaining a strong brand.

Contrary to popular belief, millennial consumers aren’t more fickle than those of other generations. They do tend to be more demanding, however, and research their options online to determine which best suits their needs. Their determination to not “settle” for something because it’s the cheapest option or most convenient shifts the obligation onto restaurants in these categories to deliver the right brand experience.

Marketing strategy consultant Jeff Fromm, co-editor of MillennialMarketing.com, sums up the challenge as follows:

“If someone has a more efficient, more interesting, more unique, more authentic experience or product, millennials are willing to switch. They are not disloyal, they are savvy, because they’ll stick with who they switch to if they like it.”

The industry’s leading brands are addressing this market by focusing on how to efficiently optimize menus, tell compelling stories and establish one-to-one loyalty programs—which means that every restaurant competing for millennials’ business needs to do likewise.

Starting at the Source: Optimizing Menus

Given that millennials value authenticity, simply coming up with a clever marketing or advertising campaign won’t be enough to get them through the doors. QSRs and fast casual restaurants need to get down to basics.

According to market research company GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer®, the percentage of millennials who frequent value-priced QSR burger or sandwich chains has decreased since 2011. In contrast, the percentages going to leading coffee-branded QSRs (such as Starbucks) and fast casual chains based on healthy selections, such as Chipotle, have increased. Industry data reveals that over the past few years, a growing number of millennials have been adopting healthier lifestyles—a movement that may be responsible for this major shift.

MillennialsInfographic1

For chain eateries with 20 or more locations, having to comply with the FDA’s regulation for posting nutrition information for all menu items by the December 1, 2015 deadline means a new level of transparency. This is a good time for chains affected by the regulation to take a look at their menu and optimize accordingly with more nutritious offerings that appeal to this health-conscious demographic.

MillennialsInfographic2

Live Your Story and Share It

Storytelling is the essence of content marketing—especially when price, quality and flavor are close among competitors. Fromm notes that the dominant marketing model has shifted from creative excellence to creating content that brands advocate and embrace. Content that is co-created with fans (such as user generated videos based on a theme) represents a high level of engagement, giving customers a sense of ownership in the brand. The purpose is to achieve loyalty, rather than deliver a hard sell message.

[sep]

MillennialsInfographic3From there, storytelling needs to advance to what Fromm calls “storyliving:” the actions taken by a brand that prove it “walks the walk.” Millennial customers are quick to spot contradictions in what a brand says it does and what it actually does; and they’re even quicker at spreading the news throughout social media. Brands must be transparent and demonstrate their commitment to causes in which their millennial customers believe, which in turn can generate even more content and opportunities to form a connection. For example, videos featuring an organic farm that supplies a restaurant’s produce, or a 5K fundraising race for a selected non-profit organization.

[sep]

MillennialsInfographic4

Creating Loyalty

One-to-one loyalty programs that deliver personalized rewards can be very effective in winning millennials—as long as the incentives are relevant to the customer’s own preferences. Brands must also be sure to connect with these customers through their preferred way of receiving information: text, email or social media. With the millennials’ online shopping via smartphone increasing a whopping 14 to 25 percent between 2013 and 2014 (according to GfK’s FutureBuy® 2014 shopping report), any loyalty program must be mobile optimized to succeed.

The Take-Home Message

The strategy to attract—and keep—millennial customers takes a different approach from other target demographics. But considering that the millennials are here to stay, brands that invest in earning their loyalty can enjoy a great long-term competitive advantage.

Evok keeps you up to date with monthly insight on Restaurants marketing trends. Click here to view more work from industry experts or scroll down for related articles.

Related Articles

Posted on August 8th, 2019

Branding, Marketing, Restaurants

Your Restaurant Guide to Tasteful Email Marketing

Email made what once required a few days of travel time has now become deliverable at the speed of light. The digital mailbox has become the fastest way of reaching your restaurant’s […]

Continue Reading

Posted on April 12th, 2019

Branding, Restaurants

Customer Reviews: Why They Matter and How to Diffuse the Negative

The Role of Online Reviews in a Customer’s Decision-Making Process With 62% of customers looking to online reviews when choosing a restaurant, that process has become the most dependable resource for transparency […]

Continue Reading

Posted on December 27th, 2018

Branding, Packaged Goods

Enhancing the Consumer Experience Through Product Packaging

What Is the Impact of Product Packaging on Your Brand? If you were given seven seconds to sell your product, would you pass the test? Your answer to this question is critical […]

Continue Reading

Posted on November 27th, 2018

Branding, Packaged Goods

CPG Brands: Inspire Customer Loyalty with Emotional Connections

Connect Consumers to Your CPG Brand: A Step-by-Step Guide Business owners, marketers, consumers—no matter our titles, at our core, we’re all human. As humans, we crave connection above all else. Although those […]

Continue Reading

Posted on September 24th, 2018

Branding, Restaurants

Refresh or Rebrand: What’s Right for Your Restaurant’s Brand?

Brand Refresh versus Rebrand for Restaurants So, your restaurant’s brand has fallen into a bit of a slump. Don’t worry, all hope isn’t lost—the first step to solving the problem is admitting […]

Continue Reading