• Anemona Knut

Strong, determined and demanding - you need to start fighting for young guests.


We are living in an economically difficult time. Despite the fact the world has never been richer in resources, there has never been more money around, there are few scythes hanging above our economies ready to chop them down. Unstable political scenes, the mare of Brexit, climate change. We see the numbers dropping in restaurant sector in UK and attracting new business is the continuous struggle. We are taking a closer look at those, who carry the fate of our revenues in their hands - the youngsters.

Who are they and why is there so much talk about them?

World Economic Forum tells us 50% of the world is under the age of 30. Those born in 80’s are commonly known as Millennials, and those born after 1996 are the Generation Z. This is the highest youth population in history.

Lets have a closer look at what are they like. Summing up the data collected by researchers we know they are climate conscious and see the issue of climate change as critical (90% believe humans are responsible for global warming). Just look at this years’ climate change protests happening all over the world, including the most recent extinction rebellion. On the top of this, they believe their voice is not being heard (55.9% said they believe important decisions are being made with no consideration of what young people think). But they have money and tremendous buying power. They are empowered by start-ups and entrepreneurship. They are workaholics, they give themselves fully to what they believe in. They are also quite positive, demonstrate ‘yes we can’ attitude and think the world is full of opportunities. They support technology and believe the technology is creating jobs, not destroying them (all of those points are made basing on World Economical Forum’s Global Shapers Survey)

Do we need to adopt to their needs?

The buying power of Millennialls and Gen Z will only grow from now. The young are setting the bar for restaurateurs quite high and ask us to start playing a completely different game. If we don’t start adopting now, it soon might turn out too late. Let’s have a look at their values first and how those transfer to new concept and standards for restaurants.

Work. We have mentioned the young having very strong work ethics, but they see work differently to the generations preceding them. The office is no longer the centre of operations, and the 8 hours working days simply are a no go. The young work to achieve certain goals, and they will do it in the time and space they see the most adequate. This shift has already caused a hot desk and shared working space craze. Some hotel brands have already taken this in consideration and included shared working areas in their conceptual design - just look at The Hoxton, or Locke hotels. Very soon the traditional business suite will be out of date, and fast wi-if connections, printer accessibility and power points at all tables will be a must to all cafes and all day dining outlets. You can always take this idea a step further and decide to open the restaurant or bar in the late afternoon hours between lunch and dinner for all the remotely working. Just an idea. Accordingly to CNBC shopping malls are already trying to enter the game and find ways to accommodate the freelancers.

Food. Young are becoming more conscious of what they are eating. Their increasing awareness of health benefits of certain diets and foods, combined with the determination to bring change in industrial Co2 emissions impact their choices greatly. 30% millennials eat organic (National House hold survey) The Vegan Society found that there are over half a million vegans in Britain. According to the Organic Trade Association, 52% of organic consumers are millennials; they are also said to consume 52% more vegetables than previous generations. They are also very much driven by the value for money when it comes to food. They expect to eat good and healthy but at reasonable prices. This is a distinctive change from the super-sized, all-you-can-eat sales tactics of the 1990s and early 2000s and has spurred tremendous growth in the fast-casual restaurant sector expect good, healthy food at reasonable prices. The CMS report said the majority of millennials either live with their parents or as part of a couple with no children, meaning they have more money to spend when it comes to food. It found that millennials eat out an average of four times a month; in cases of affordable food, 36% of millennials are willing to pay more in restaurants for outstanding service. By the outstanding service they also take the restaurant’s flexibility - the chefs must show willingness to be able to adopt the dishes to individual guests needs. They also want to know it all - farm to table philosophy becomes more and more important in building relation with young guests. They know average vegetable or fruit in the supermarket travels 1500 miles before it ends up on the shelf and they don’t like the sound of it. They want to hear the Chef has befriended local butchers and farmers and they want to hear stories on where the food is from and who grows it. Other form of service, which increasingly becomes a new standard, is having the restaurant quality food available for home delivery. Young ones will no longer get satisfied with simple pizza from an American branded kiosk or greasy Chinese. They are not ready yet to spend hours cooking themselves, but they do expect a great meal delivered to their doors.

Experience is the word of current times. 53 % of young say they want unique experience in the restaurant, 52% wants unique food, and they don’t mind change. More and more people are thought to be looking for food with a story. This is especially true of millennials who value individuality, uniqueness, and adventure. Dining out is a way to experience food from all over the world and to share that experience with friends. The will love to see their favourite restaurant introducing pop-ups and collaborations with chefs bringing something new.

Technology. Young are expecting to constantly experience new technologies. They want to try new things that could make their lives easier. Marriott in China has partnered with Alibaba to introduce self check in desks that scan the ID cards and identify guests with facial recognition AI systems. Young guests love it. Some restaurants are also trying with the pre-orders being processed before the guests arrive in, and this also seem to appeal to the younger clientele. Young don’t care about meeting numerous agents and servers, they expect service communication all to be done impersonally, hence the increase in online chat bots. They also spend a lot of time on social media and following trend setters is very important for them. They created social media influencers and now they feel like they really need them. 65% of (YAYA Connection data) social media conversations are about where to eat. With 25% of millennials saying they will pay more at a restaurant if its social media ratings are good, as a big majority of millennials use social media they will want to share their experiences at the restaurant they are at.

Summing up

Wether you are a fine dining luxury venue, gastro pub, or a casual diner, you need to start changing things slowly. Not all at once, and not everything will work for you but these things need to change: market to table, local sourcing plus seasonality, restaurant stories, flexibility of chefs plus more veggie options, instagrammable moments, involvement of influencers and home delivery options. If you haven’t started your reforms yet, the time is now.

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