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Musings on the Foodservice Industry

Figuring out Millennials a Challenge for Businesses

The business world is completely enamored with Millennials and their eating and shopping habits. It doesn’t matter if it’s Coca-Cola® and McDonalds® trying to reformulate products or Target®, which is planning to offer more organic, natural and gluten-free foods.  

Companies are reaching out to Millennials and trying to satisfy their desire to eat healthy, support local stores, and communicate via social media.  Also known as Generation Y (or Gen Y), they’re the go-to demographic, surpassing their parents, the Baby Boomer generation. 

Jason Dorsey, author of two books on Millennials, recently commented at the 2015 Pizza Expo that Generation Y will outspend Baby Boomers by 2017. He said this year they’ll spend $1.3 trillion. “Millennials are the fastest growing generation in the workplace and marketplace,” he said. 

He enthralled pizza operators who came looking for answers on how to not only market to Gen Y, but also how to manage this independent, opinionated and highly self-confident demographic, which is defined by being born 1977–1995.  

Dorsey’s comments about Millennials included: mil gen

  1. They have the least established loyalty toward products.  This generation is still sampling. But they are very connected and quick to tell friends about their experiences. 
  2. Millennials like patronizing local restaurants and stores versus shopping/eating at large chains.  He said large chains can win their business, but only if they publicize community involvement in local activities. 
  3. Millennials often feel entitled, which is a direct result of how they were brought up. The Baby Boomers coddled their children, sheltering them as much as possible and offering positive feedback no matter how they performed.  The Boomers wanted their kids “to have it easier” than their upbringing. As a result, Millennials are living a “delayed adulthood” wanting the freedom of being an adult but without the responsibility.  Dorsey said many have yet to marry, start their first jobs at an age five years older than Boomers, and prefer to return home after college.  
  4. It’s a perception that Millennials are tech-savvy. In reality they’re tech-dependent – they can’t live without it.  And they really don’t know how it works; they just want their gadgets to be so simple – they expect them to work. 

Dorsey also offered some wisdom on how pizza operators should attract Millennials as customers: 

  1. Millennials think they’re unique and special, so they want one-of-a-kind experiences.  
  2. To attract Millennials, everything must be visual, which means take a lot of photographs. Websites and social media pages should have minimal copy and be filled with photos and videos highlighting each business’ unique family story and local activities.  

Whether your business is hiring Millennials or serving them, you’ll need to adapt to their unique personalities and idiosyncrasies.  According to Dorsey, to win over his generation your business needs to focus on “connecting and influencing” and of course, to offer unique, localized products and services. 

Let’s see if the Baby Boomer generation can do a better job of selling to Millennials than they did bringing them up. 

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