Reaching Non-Millennials through Restaurant Marketing

Senior Couples out for LunchHow taking a different approach to each generation can help your overall restaurant marketing strategy.

For the last few years, the growing trend among all advertisers has been to resonate with the coveted audience of Millennials. Whether it means focusing on advertising channels where Millennials are active, creating messaging focused on the Millennial lifestyle or highlighting attributes that Millennials find appealing, we’ve all seen examples of brands trying to reach this audience as effectively as possible.

That begs the question though, “What about the rest of the population?” While Millennials make up over a quarter of the U.S. population, that leaves 75% of Americans being somewhat neglected by many advertisers. Luckily restaurant marketers don’t have to completely change their current strategy to reach the rest of the population.

Why you shouldn’t neglect non-Millennials

Recently, Millennials have finally taken over Baby Boomers as the largest adult generation in the United States. There are still large differences in spending power between the two generations and even more differences when you also compare them to members of Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1980). Both Gen Xers and Boomers spend more overall each year than Millennials (who actually spend more on dining out). Now, while Millennials spend a larger portion on eating out than any other generation, there are more dollars to vie for among Gen Xers and Boomers.

Generation Z and why they matter

Another generation to take into consideration is Generation Z (the post-Millennial generation), many of whom are still in school and don’t have much spending power at all yet. However, it’s important to remember that they are the children of Gen Xers (or older Millennials) and are still very impressionable given their young age. Since they aren’t spending their own money, making connections with their parents will have a major impact on their future spending habits. It is expected that Gen Z will be even larger than Millennials in years to come and there is no doubt that marketers will shift their focus to them next.

What to do now

Once you have accepted the fact that ignoring non-Millennials isn’t a great marketing strategy, there are a few options for what to do next. For one, you can use these insights to inform your overall media plan. Gen Xers and Boomers watch more TV and listen to more terrestrial radio, and if your focus has been on Millennials, you’ve likely been focusing on reaching them via mobile devices. This just so happens to be a great way to reach Gen Xers too, as monthly smartphone usage is comparable between the two generations, although Millennials watch more video on their smartphones.

Messaging is another great way to differentiate between different generations. Millennials will want to hear about your unique flavorings (think ingredients like Sriracha) and want to know where their food is coming from. On the other hand, your Gen X customers may be more interested in your classic offerings like burgers but are still willing to try something new. Taking a good look at your CRM data can help you determine what is working for each generation and then you can take next steps from there on how to resonate best with each one.

About Sean Baker

Sean Baker has 18+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.
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