6 Tips for Attracting Millennial Diners


If you’re in the restaurant business you’ve probably heard about Millennials and their impact on the industry for a few years now.  

There’s a reason for it.

Millennials represent a significant portion of the buying force in the industry. And they look for places to eat in distinctly different ways than other generations.

But in order to attract these customers, you need to do more than just discount your menu items.

First you need to understand the expectations Millennials have when eating out. This will help you find common ground within your own offering. Then you need to highlight those commonalities in a way that appeals to Millennials.

Seem like a tall order? Not when you use game-based promotions.

3 Things Millennials Look For When Eating Out

1) Adventure and Atmosphere

Millennials are more adventurous with their food choices than previous generations. That means they’re more likely to try a new restaurant than go to the same place every time they dine out.[1]

While this may sound good to restaurants trying to attract new customers, it’s not as beneficial as it sounds.

The problem becomes retaining Millennial customers. And since loyal customers spend more than new customers [2] — and millennials spend more than other generations [3] — retaining them is an obvious priority.

Targeting Millennials with your loyalty program can be one way to keep them coming back — but it’s not the only way.  

Millennials are also looking to form emotional attachments with brands. That means you can increase the chance of repeat visits by creating an appealing atmosphere and making dining out at your restaurant an experience. [4]

2) Healthy Options

Millennials generally seek out and spend more money on healthy options.[5]

  • 44% of Millennials say they make eating healthy a priority in their lives [6]
  • 62% say it’s very important to them to eat and drink healthy foods and bev [7]
But what do they consider healthy? Calorie counting has gone by the wayside as the definition of healthy has shifted to mean all natural, chemical free and organic foods.
  • 74% of Millennials would rather eat all natural than low cal[8]
  • 35% have tried clean eating [9]
  • They’re 2X as likely to care if their food is organic[10]

And it’s not just Millennials that want healthier options. Their influence is shaping trends in other generations to eat more organic, natural foods.

Being able to offer these kinds of foods — and highlighting them within your marketing — will be essential to staying relevant in a market that is increasingly health focused.

3) Company Values That Match Their Own

More so than other generations before them, Millennials truly care about whether a brand’s values align with their own.

Finding common ground is critical as many Millennials decide where to spend their money based on their perception of your brand:

  • 50% of Millennials make an effort to buy brands that share a similar value set or support causes/organizations they care about [11]
  • Many are willing to pay a premium for brands they feel are worthy [12]

Being transparent with Millennials and highlighting your efforts towards sustainability, better working conditions for your employees, or the charity work your company does are great ways to show your brand is worthy of their business.

Next Step: Application

Understanding what Millennials look for in restaurants isn’t enough.  You have to highlight appealing aspects of your restaurant where Millennials look for information. And that means going digital.

6 Reasons Why Digital Promos are the Way to Go

1) They Improve Brand Knowledge

If your restaurant has aspects that Millennials will find appealing — like healthy menu options or sustainable policies — make sure they know about it!

Game-based promotions make it simple to highlight this information while putting it in a fun format that Millennials respond to.

2) They Drive Traffic

After you educate consumers about your brand, get them into your restaurant by offering rewards that are redeemable in-store.  

You can also encourage consumers to visit your restaurant repetitively by highlighting menu specials and discounts within your promo!

3) They Show Off Your Stuff

The existence of entire websites dedicated to pictures of just food  — and the popularity of food boards on Pinterest — should alert you to the fact that people love looking at pictures of food. Adding photos of your dishes to your digital promo is a great way to make it pop. And get players drooling over your menu.

Or you can get your consumers to share pics of your food and restaurant with a User Generated Contest. Most Millennials love sharing experiences on social media — and dining out is no exception.

3) They Improve Loyalty Program Opt-Ins and Engagement

Retaining customers  is a major challenge for restaurants, especially when those customers are Millennials. Loyalty programs are usually the first way restaurants try to retain customers, but it can be challenging to get people to opt-in and engage with the program repetitively.

Get more people engaged with your loyalty program by incorporating it within a game-based promotion. You can encourage people to sign up by offering rewards for joining.  And you can encourage engagement by offering special rewards just for loyalty members!

Plus you can track purchases when you connect your loyalty program to your game-based contest or sweepstakes, giving you valuable insights into who's buying what and whether the promo is working.

4) They Drive Engagement In-Store

Unlike Hit and Run sweepstakes, game-based promos feature fun mobile content that’s meant to be played during down time. In a restaurant, that’d be the time consumers spend waiting for a table, their food, or the cheque.  

By running a game-based promo, you can keep consumers engaged with your brand during those moments.  And if the promo features your menu items, you can use the power of suggestion to drive more sales of sides or desserts.

Imagine a promo that lets people play for a chance to win a free dessert while dining. Pretty fun, and it’ll drive more sales!

5) They Keep You Top of Mind

We’ve noticed a traffic spike in our promos from 11AM to 12PM and from 4PM to 5PM.  People seem to play game-based promos to kill time before they head out for lunch or dinner.

Now imagine if that promo featured your restaurant.

You could reach people at a time when they are already thinking about food. And by featuring your menu or specials within the promo, you can get them thinking about your food. It’s a great opportunity to make your restaurant top of mind, when it matters most.     

Plus you can grow your email list by rewarding consumers with more game plays or prize entries when they opt-in. Then you can continue to connect with them via email campaigns long after your promo ends.

Being top-of-mind with your consumers is always a good thing!

6) They Drive Sales

Game-based promos can also actively drive sales. You can use purchase codes to encourage repeat visits — just include them within the promo as a way to earn extra plays or rewards!

Plus you can ramp up purchases in store because game-based promotions are mobile accessible — you just need to promote the promo in store!

The Bottom Line:

Understanding why Millennials choose restaurants and what they expect from their dining experiences is key to attracting them as customers.

Highlighting the ways in which your restaurant overlaps with Millennial values like sustainability and healthy options, can be an effective marketing strategy — one that’s best executed through game-based promotions.