There’s no doubt that millennials are impacting our day to day lives. We’ve seen them ambling through parks on their phones hunting for Pokemon, and lately we’ve seen our working environments evolving into new worlds. All to better “suit their needs.” The food and beverage industry is no stranger to this movement and, as this blog unfolds, you may be surprised to read just how large this sphere of influence is. So, let’s journey into the millennials’ world and learn about their mindset, their expectations, and how it impacts our operations.
Technology is Not King, It’s god!
Wi-Fi is the millennials’ manna. Smart phones, tablets, and laptops all depend on connectivity to the world at all times. Complimentary Wi-Fi is a lot cheaper than the diners’ own data. Offering Wi-Fi may be a given for some operators. If you don’t already do this, you are missing out on a cost effective way to keep your guests in your dining room. Creating a technology-friendly zone with better internet connectivity and even charging stations are examples of how to create an ideal environment that invites millennials to stay and extend their dining experience.
Mixed Seating for Mixed Company
Like a snowflake, all millennials are different and special in their own way. That translates all the way to the style of seat and table they wish to sit at. Millennials appreciate a dining environment that is inviting to their specific taste at that moment. Mixed seating, such as high table tops, large sofa-style seats, booths, and even pods, accommodates varied dining desires. Retention and guest loyalty prevail when choices are abundant.
Authenticity is the Standard, not the Exception
Authentic flavor and authentically prepared foods fall hand-in-hand with one another. Millennials have become significantly more educated about culinary arts and the styles of cooking due to the increased popularity of television cooking shows and the support of social media and the internet. This applies not only to the cooking methods, but also the unique ingredients used. Regional foods have become the norm; the cuisine touts the style of cooking as well as the ingredients used to prepare the food, just as it would be if you were dining in that region. This is particularly relevant in international foods. So, instead of Italian food, millennials expect Tuscan or Milanese and they will know what each region produces. If they don’t know, they will look it up in the comfy dining environment they have chosen, while using your complimentary Wi-Fi. Regional authenticity is the watermark of quality.
Timing is Everything
Although millennials have a high expectation for quality, they also want to receive the food quickly. The new quick-service model that has been popularized by the likes of Five Guys and Chipotle, allows guests to customize and build their order quickly and efficiently. The menu boards are engineered to streamline the process by breaking up the ordering into sections, which contributes towards the ease of ordering the food in a short period of time. In many cases, the food is produced in an open kitchen format. The open format allows the operator to showcase cooking in front of the guests, further contributing toward the experience. The transparency of this method not only stimulates the guest’s senses, but it also reaffirms the quality of the product.
Saving the World, One Entrée at a Time
Millennials are far more conscientious about their impact on the environment than previous generations. It begins with where the ingredients come from and how much of an impact the farming process has made on the environment. An excellent way to engage guests who care about these topical issues is to share the story of the food (only if there is a story to share). Educating the guest on the local produce that is procured and the sustainable practices that the farms implement creates a deeper purpose and experience for the guest. It further exemplifies transparency in the foodservice being offered.
Environmental awareness extends beyond menu ingredients and sustainable farming practices. Millennials care about having a minimal post-consumer impact as well. This translates to using bio-degradable disposables, using permanent ware, and separating waste into recyclable streams to ensure that the minimum amount of waste is deposited in a landfill. Recyclable streams include cardboard and mixed paper, plastics and cans, glass, and food waste. Engaging millennials in recycling efforts contributes toward their desire to be a part of a greater purpose.
Consider the Surface Scratched
At this point, I can confidently write that I’ve lost a majority of my fellow millennials who have exceeded their standard time per blog quota. For the remaining faithful party of readers: there are endless ways millennials have and will continue to impact our industry. These are some of the most impactful changes that we have seen. They are all taken into consideration through each new concept, evaluation, and design that we produce.
By: Adam Dean
Senior Associate | Management Advisory Services