You can say what you like about millennials, but the fact is that they spend more on food than any other demographic. And as time passes, they will wield even more influence as consumers. Millennials are getting a bad name in the restaurant industry. It is believed that they are responsible for impacting on the revenue of major chain restaurants like Applebee’s and McDonald’s. But instead of pointing fingers at the most influential consumer today, do something about it. Understand why your restaurant might not be attracting them and fix it. The good news is that millennials are very vocal about their needs and wants – all you have to do is listen.

Not entitled, just different

A major mistake restaurant businesses make today is to treat millennials like any other customer. Problem is, they aren’t like any other customer. They enjoy eating out at different places, and instead of frequenting a restaurant that serves a wide variety of food, they prefer a place that can do specific dishes extremely well. It’s a matter of quality over quantity – they are looking for that local gem.

To some people, millennials might seem picky and quick to criticise a business, but treat them right and they will be loyal to your restaurant. Since they spend their money on experiences, restaurants must focus on creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for them. Millennials are sentimental, they want to hear your origin story. Spur is famous for the fact that its menus are decorated with the restaurant’s backstory. Other restaurants typically place their stories on their menus or as wall décor.  

Promote user-generated content

Millennials are already on social media snapping pictures of your food. You need to control the conversation. Create a unique hashtag that patrons can use when visiting your restaurant. You can use a hashtag during a campaign to keep track of the conversation. DiGiorno Pizza used #DigiorNoYouDidn’t and users quickly embraced the lingo on Twitter. Simply Asia’s hashtag is simple yet effective: #ThinkThai. Do some digging to find out what consumers are saying about your brand and find a way to get involved in that conversation.

There is no need to chase the big hashtags, rather focus your efforts on finding ones that are relevant to your restaurant. Zzzquil, a company that sells a night-time sleep aid, noticed that people were often using #GoToSleep on Twitter. It saw the opportunity to tweet using the hashtag in a way that showed users the company was with them. Zzzquil merged its tweets with what was trending at that moment and the result was brilliant.


The key is to be authentic and stay true to your brand. Talk to your followers while they interact with you on your social platforms. It shows that you’re listening and you value their opinion. RocoMamas does this well.

Experiment with food

If you want your restaurant to be known as the place to be, strive to provide an exciting experience. It starts with your menu. Always have fresh new dishes for people to try while retaining the old favourites. This will appease new and loyal customers. If you are worried about having to print new menus constantly, invest in digital menus. Also bear in mind that millennials are health-conscious, so be sure to serve a salad or two.

But don’t leave just yet, there’s so much more to learn! Read our guide, The definitive 21st-century restaurant playbook, to become an expert on how to serve the 21st-century patron and improve your customer experience.

Author : Rudi Badenhorst