Few are the restaurant brands which can appeal to a single age segment of the market, be it baby boomers or millennials, and thrive long-term. But, while restaurants understandably target their marketing and customer acquisition efforts toward specific demographics, dictated by their concept and location, all attempt to bridge the gap between market segments to capture the interest of the broadest customer base possible.
The seemingly unstoppable trend toward local … everything … offers up a way for operators to do just that. As outlined in our latest whitepaper, Balancing the Needs of Diverse Consumers Through Seasonal Menuing, the inclusion of fresh, seasonal, and local produce on a restaurant menu can go a long way to meeting the needs and wants of consumers in all age segments.
Considering that the two most disparate age groups in the market—millennials and baby boomers—when combined make up two-thirds of every dollar spent in restaurants today, and a predicted three-quarters of every dollar spent by 2020 according to the IFDA, finding a way to bridge the generational gap is obviously an imperative for operators
While the restaurant experience remains critical for consumers—with millennials in search of a social, communal and authentic brand experience, generation X seeking out familiar, relaxed, authentic, and innovative brand experiences, and mature traditionalists and baby boomers looking for a highly personal and comfortable restaurant experience at every visit—it would seem that the overwhelming desire from consumers across the board for fresh, local, seasonal, and sustainable products and produce on restaurant menus can help unite them.
For operators, bridging that gap is a delicate balancing act, requiring them to appeal to the widest consumer base possible without alienating their existing customers. Radical changes are rarely, if ever an option; especially for chain restaurants with a clearly defined brand experience. But through seasonal menu updates which speak to the leading trends in the market across all ages: locally sourced produce, healthy, fresh, and “better for you” menu items, and sustainable farm-to-fork and sea-to-plate offerings, operators may be able to find the balance they need to capture a greater, and more diverse, share of their market.