Forget millennials in your foodservice marketing

      Millennials in Foodservice

At the risk of being stoned by my foodservice marketing brethren, I say it’s time to stop with all the millennial focus.

The days of grouping masses of people by age, race or gender is a 1980’s concept (and a tad demeaning).  How many “Baby Boomers,”  “Gen X’ers,” or other meaningless groups of people do you know who walk, talk and eat exactly alike?  Why not market based on Zodiac signs?

An eating establishment succeeds because of an overall experience that is largely driven by taste and value.  In other words, the coolest joint in town won’t survive if the food sucks—even for millennials.

Nor are millennials more interested in “local” or “natural” than any other group.   Been to a Farmer’s Market lately?  It looks like the senior center is on a field trip to peruse the fruits and vegetables (hey, I resemble that remark).

The hype leaves the impression that millennials are an extraterrestrial species that communicate through a particular form of mind-reading.  It takes cunning mastery of secret millennial behaviors to succeed with marketing — if you believe the gurus.

I’m surrounded by millennials thanks to my children and their friends. Each millennial I know is an individual.  They all don’t go to Chipotle.  Many couldn’t care less about Twitter.  Some are vegetarian.  Others live for the cheapest burger they can find.  Some like country music.  Others listen to alternative.  Many believe the world is burning up from global warming.  A few race cars and burn fossil fuels for fun.

They all seem to talk and act in a relatively normal manner.  Yet, tastes and attitudes vary as widely as their tattoos (or lack thereof) that adorn various body parts.

Perhaps the only similarity is that many millennials are too busy trying to find a job to worry about such things as what group they fall into.

  • Taste and value still win out. Trying to be hip and relevant is as fleeting as Backstreet Boys hit record.  Remain focused on your product’s flavors and quality characteristics.  These remain universal themes that resonant with people interested in your value proposition (whatever it is!) regardless of age, gender or race.
  • You still need a good story. Few of us think “gosh, I just wish I could read more features and benefits!”  Instead, focus on telling great stories about how operator customers use your food product in creative ways.  The features and benefits will naturally present themselves.  Or dust off that anecdote about how your R&D gal came up with the idea of adding maple water into the chicken breast marinade after talking to a Vermont farmer.  A fascinating product story intrigues consumers and operators across all age groups.
  • Make it visual. Not everybody can smell or taste your product right away, but most people can see it thanks to mobile video.  Mobile video is NOT a millennial thing.  Video is a cultural revolution that influences foodservice operators and consumers regardless of age!