Millennials are a massive market for independent food businesses in the UK, but how do you attract them online?
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If you don’t know what a millennial is then you probably are one. Millennials, or Generation Y, are defined as those born during the internet revolution from around 1982 to 2000 and the Guardian reports that there are now 16.2 million of them living in the UK.
According to Inkling 60% of UK Millennials will engage with online content that interests them, even if it’s obvious that it’s sponsored or from a brand, this gives independent eateries the opportunity to engage and target the millennials online and drive them to their independent businesses.
Here are 4 ways independent eateries can appeal to millennials online.
1. Accentuate Your Variety
Gone are the days of less is more. Now even independent establishments need to offer a whole range of differing options in order to appeal to the masses of changing tastes and diets, as well as staying ahead of the curve.
Vegan. Gluten Free. Words you have probably seen more than once. Whether choosing this lifestyle for ethical or dietary reasons there is no denying that veganism and being Gluten Free are growing food trends, particularly amongst the millennials. Veganism, in particular, has risen in the UK by 350% over the last decade, with 42% of them being in the 15-34 age bracket.
If your eatery offers these options there are a host of websites and directories you can submit to, such as Vegan London and Happy Cow, to make sure people with their dietary preferences can find your establishment. There is also a large community on social media who express passion for their vegan lifestyles, using the hashtags like #vegan, #whatveganseat and #veganfoodshare will put you in front of your target audience.
Granny’s traditional lasagne or bangers and mash won’t inspire millennials to choose your restaurant over others, in fact most millennials shun large meals altogether, opting to graze on snack foods rather than sit down to traditional three meals a day.
A menu cannot consist of strictly snack foods but having key niche items that stand out can draw people in. For example Molly Bakes have achieved viral success thanks to their Freakshakes. Originally from down under, these shakes are the ultimate indulgence, offering a mix of milkshake, donuts/ cookies/ brownies, cream and more sweet treats.
Molly Bakes put these on their menu in the UK and have had wide spread coverage, included on national TV shows and in national publications, endless social shares and visitors from all over just to try one of these shakes, and more importantly share them with their social following.
A niche, such as the Freakshake example, will provide independent eateries with a unique selling point which will attract attention and drive millennials to try it for themselves.
‘35% of millennials experiment with new food regularly, compared to less than 13% of their parents’ generation.’ Food Bev.
2. Take Time to Engage
‘66% favour outlets that are active on social media, and expect technology to be part of the eating out experience.’ Elior.
Independent restaurants and cafes have the unique opportunity to truly connect with their customers. Large brands will have several people working on social media to answer questions etc., but are unable to connect on a personal level with every one of their patrons.
Voxburner found that 64% of 16-24 year olds said they are more likely to become a loyal customer if a brand engages with them on social, suddenly making social a vital business tool when targeting millennials.
It is a good idea to use a social tool such as Hootsuite to collection all of your @ mentions in one place. This will allow you to respond to any queries, address any complaints and accept any compliments from customers without missing any. Notifications for your social networks can also be set up on your phone or via email.
Engagement doesn’t stop with responding to direct mentions. A proactive approach to social engagement could be finding popular hashtags that your target market are using to post about their food and join in, or find popular reoccurring hashtag trends and post relevant content, for example #meatfreemonday would be the day that you showcase vegetarian/ vegan options those also posting that hashtag.
3. Target the Influencers
The internet revolution brought the millennials and with them it also created a range of accessible influencers. Gone are the days of celebrity endorsement, instead there are bloggers and vloggers influencing the way people make decisions and, in particular, these people are millennials.
Millennials are influenced by family and friends (72%), search engines and reviews (50%), social networks (21.4%) and bloggers/experts (20.2%) Inkling.
Bloggers will usually review a meal detailing their experience and sharing images both on the blog and on their social channels. Their audience will see the review and use it to decide whether it is worth making the trip or not.
Bloggers may naturally come and visit independent restaurants but if you would like to speed things along contact local lifestyle bloggers with a good social media following to review your restaurant in exchange for a free meal. Once the review has been posted be sure to re-tweet/ share any social posts the blogger puts out.
It is not enough to churn out curated content on social media anymore, brands need to create engaging, shareworthy content in order to benefit from online activity and in 2016, it is all about video content.
71% of 16-24 year old said videos were the type of content they enjoyed the most Voxburner, and primarily short form video, created on platforms such as Vine and Instagram.
80% of millennials find video helpful when researching a purchase decision online, even if a restaurant does not sell anything physical online they are still selling a brand and video gives them the opportunity to sell it to millennials.
A video style that would suit the restaurant industry are the ‘how-to’ videos. Searches for ‘How to’ videos on YouTube increases by 70% year on year according to Adelie Studios. Create one a signature dish in a sped up format. People will love seeing how the dish is made, proving the authenticity, will be engaged with the content and will be more likely to visit the restaurant, share the content or follow the brand.
If there isn’t the time or resources available to create this type of content, short format videos (6-15 seconds long) can be used to give sneak peaks behind the scenes, still giving original, engaging content but without the extra effort.
Unfortunately nothing is free, so if you need a little cash injection to put something new on the menu, update your marketing material or even get someone in to handle your social media an unsecured financial business loan may be the way to go. Giving you enough to update your eatery and pull those millennials through the door.