Millennials this, millennials that. Maybe it’s self-centered of me, a millennial, to think that most marketing strategies seem to be focused on us. Although millennials are on the cusp of surpassing baby boomers as the nation’s largest adult generation, the rest of the population should not be ignored when planning how to best target your customers. Although all consumers share the same general expectations from restaurants – high quality food, prompt service, and accurate orders – brands still need to think about how each generation wants to be communicated with, and ensure their strategy encompasses them all. Each customer connects with brands differently, and we want to show you how to engage every generation individually, and keep them coming back to your restaurant.
Traditionalists, also known as the Silent Generation, are born between 1928 and 1946. A study by the National Retail Federation reported that current shopping behaviors are influenced by past experience, and this is strongly highlighted with the traditionalist generation. Growing in between the Great Depression and World War II means traditionalists are no stranger to hard work – they value their money, and therefore search out fair pricing when they go out to eat.
As far as communication, you probably won’t catch the Silent Generation online, as only 3% of them expect brands to be active on social media. They have respect for authority, and therefore may be more receptive to celebrity endorsements than others in your audience. They do not respond well to sales pressure, so a ‘now or never’ approach won’t work with this group. Instead, focus on how your products and services benefit them, through traditional mediums like TV, billboards, or radio – and don’t forget, it doesn’t hurt to send a deal their way to help get them through your doors.
Born between 1946 and 1965, baby boomers didn’t grow up with 24/7 connectivity, so technology isn’t as important to them as the generations that came after. With this assumption of boomers not being digital natives, expecting direct mail and catalog campaigns to be effective is a common mistake marketers, when in fact, baby boomers spend little time engaging with these mediums. Marketers shouldn’t underestimate how tech savvy our boomer family members are. It might surprise you to learn that 96% of baby boomers use search engines, 95% use email, and 92% shop online. When targeting them, the most effective channels are TV, search engines, and email marketing – the fact that these mediums may not have stayed in vogue with modern day marketers does not diminish their effectiveness, depending on your specific audience.
Don’t forget Generation X! According to American Express, Gen Xers have amassed significant spending power, and control 31% of the total income dollars in the US economy. Born between 1966 and 1981, Gen X has quickly adapted to a digital lifestyle and appreciate the efficiency and accessibility that comes with it – so don’t make it difficult for them to spend their hard-earned money with your business.
Something important to know about Generation X is that they have a deep appreciation for loyalty programs. And more, 85% of Gen Xers report that discounts or coupons are the most important benefit of a loyalty program. SMS campaigns and mobile apps are both great ways to give Gen Xers the loyalty rewards they crave, while the use of social media platforms will also encourage Gen Xers to choose you.
Millennials or Gen Y
Being brought into this world between 1982 and 1999 means millennials grew up with the Internet and are now spending an average of 25 hours per week online. They tread over websites, blogs, and social media, searching out authentic content to share with their online community. 84% of millennials say they have been influenced by user generated content, so when marketing to them be sure to employ social influencers.
Outbound marketing tactics like radio spots or magazine ads feel too curated for millennials, as they are company focused and do not add any genuine value to the consumer. Millennials want to feel emotionally connected to brands, both in store and online, so overall brand experience is important to them. Millennials want a deeper understanding the brands they align with, so blog posts, videos, and other informative content appeals to them. Reward them for their brand loyalty by offering them perks that make them feel like a VIP, all while helping to enhance that emotional connection.
Gen Z, iGen, or Centennials
Born 1996 and later, these young diners wield substantial spending power. They are often on the go, and enjoy snacking throughout the day instead of sitting down to have a full meal. This means they favor quick service restaurants and appreciate convenience. They are also among those who welcome creativity in their meals and experiences. More and more consumers are seeking out ‘instagramable’ dining experiences, where a photo-op worthy experience is as important as the food itself.
Generation Z grew up surfing the world-wide web, and were raised in part by the internet similar to previous generations that grew up with Gilligan’s Island or Lost in Space. Which means, like Millennials, they like to see a strong online presence. Be sure to engage with them on social media and talk to them one-on-one where you can by answering their questions or replying to their posts. Wendy’s does a fantastic job of engaging the younger generations online. They constantly engage with their following in a sassy, conversational tone, gaining them a lot of respect and retweets. In a particularly successful marketing move, Wendy’s gave away a years’ worth of free chicken nuggets to one of their followers, once he managed to break the world record for retweets.
No Matter the Generation, We’ve Got You Covered
Marketing across generations can be tricky, as everyone consumes content a little bit differently. When preparing your marketing strategy, it helps to harness the audience data that will help you get to know your customers. We’re experts at driving restaurant growth, and would love to help. Ready to see what we could do to help you target your customers? Fill out the form below to get started.