How Chain Restaurants Can Attract Young Diners

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

Millennials have long been blamed for the demise of casual dining, so we asked them to divulge what would entice them to eat at a chain restaurant...

Chain restaurants and casual dining establishments have long topped the “Millennials are killing” list, and this year looks to be no different. And while it’s true that the Applebee’s and Buffalo Wild Wings of the world have been struggling to reel back in young diners, that might not be the whole story. A recent report from Harris Poll found that Millennials rank restaurant chains higher than older generations do, citing convenience and budget as the top reasons they love these classic options. Darden Restaurant Inc.’s CEO recently announced both their Olive Garden and Cheddar’s chains over-index with Millennials, saying the demo makes up 30% of all their guests—6% more than the overall population, and a study from Rewards Network also found that full-service restaurants saw a 3.5% bump in revenue last year over 2016. Ypulse’s own data found that over half of young adults sometimes or often go to chain restaurants.

So why is the prevailing message that casual dining is dying at the hands of these finicky Millennials? For one, as the CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings said last year, "Millennial consumers are more attracted than their elders to cooking at home, ordering delivery from restaurants, and eating quickly, in fast-casual or quick-serve restaurants.” Ypulse data backs all this up, with the addition that the demo also loves their homegrown establishments—local restaurants routinely top young consumers’ favorite restaurants list. Additionally, over two-thirds of young consumers have frequented a fast casual restaurant in the past month, the same amount say they order takeout or delivery one to three times per week, and a slight majority…

 
 

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Quote of the Day: “A lot of people stay in jobs they hate. They feel stuck or need the money. I refuse to do this. I just gave up a Nursing career to be a CSR and I have never been happier.”—Female, 27, IN

YouTube is cracking down on creators that participate in dangerous viral challenges. The media giant updated their community guidelines to take a stronger stance against stunts that spin out of control—like the Tide Pod Challenge. Any creator that performs “pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger” will earn a strike—three and they’re out. What could constitute a strike? Just ask Jake Paul, who recently drove blindfolded for the #BirdBoxChallenge. (The Verge)

The inner five-year-old of Millennials everywhere is jumping up and down for Hot Topic’s Polly Pocket collab. In partnership with Mattel, the brand that wins at delivering unique styles is dropping a 17-piece collection of nostalgic merch. (The line looks a lot like another throwback collection we called out last year.) In celebration of the iconic toy’s 30th birthday (feel old yet?), ‘90s kids can cop everything from bags to hats to mini makeup palettes that feature shades like “Made in the 90s.” (Nylon)

YouTubers Life OMG! is like The Sims for a generation of aspiring social media stars. Players can pretend to be a video game streamer, a passionate creative, or another influencer. But the game is just as realistic as the kids who play it, making them do chores and deliver newspapers when they’re off the air. Similarly, most kids seem to know the dream is not a full-time gig; just take it from nine-year-old Oliver, who explains, “Of course I will have a good job as well, not just YouTube." (Vice)

Big brands are swooping in to save young shoppers from 2018’s oat milk shortage. The buzzy beverage has become the environmentally friendly alternative to almond milk for Millennial & Gen Z shoppers seeking dairy-free and vegan options. It became a barista favorite this year, mainly thanks to industry upstart, Oatly, which is opening a new factory to up their production. But they better hurry: big brands like Pepsi Co.’s Quaker Oats, Danone’s Silk, and Califia Farms are all getting in on this grain-based trend. (Bloomberg)

The most old-fashioned form of TV is experiencing a surge: over-the-air. While the Post-TV Gen continue to cut the cord, more are buying physical antennas to tap free networks and watch live events. Nielsen data found that this kind of old-school appointment viewing jumped from 9% of all homes in 2010 to 14% last year. Diving deeper into that 14%, about three in five also subscribe to streaming services like Netflix, and their median age is 36. (Fortune)

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