Millennials are unique. They communicate differently, are self-expressive, confident, liberal, upbeat, and open to change. But marketing to them can be a challenge.

This group (ages 19-34) has a distinct perspective on dining occasions, placing more value on attributes like social responsibility, sustainability, local, and organic, grass-fed, and hormone-free offerings. They foster emotional connections to brands and their loyalty stems beyond experience. 

“Millennials visit restaurants more frequently than any other generation,” says Darren Tristano, Technomic EVP. “Restaurant operators are making consistent efforts to track the purchasing habits of Millennials and appeal to their unique need states. Success with today’s Millennial consumer will depend on making an emotional connection and setting expectations.” 

Technomic is helping restaurants and foodservice suppliers understand and respond to Millennials' dining preferences with two offerings.

A new in-depth study for suppliers, Understanding the Foodservice Attitudes and Behaviors of Millennials, provides extensive consumer and operator insights across restaurant and non-commercial accounts, in addition to operators' best practices and unmet needs. Suppliers who join the study prior to launch also receive operator and consumer feedback on their top three product categories.

Technomic's already-available Consumer Restaurant Brand Metrics program provides chains with a scorecard to benchmark performance against their peers and track results over time. Among 50 dimensions evaluated by the program, Millennials gave top marks to the following chains, by segment, on three highly valued attributes.
Top-Ranking Chains on Three Dimensions Valued by Millennial Consumers, by Segment

Social Responsibility – Acting in a way that is good for the environment, treating employees well.

In-N-Out Burger – Quick Service
McAlister’s Deli – Fast Casual
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store – Family-Style
Logan’s Roadhouse – Casual Dining

Food Quality – For Millennials, food quality goes beyond taste and visual appeal, also incorporating sourcing elements such as grass-fed and free-range into their quality perception.

Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich Shop – Quick Service
McAlister’s Deli – Fast Casual
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store – Family-Style
Red Lobster – Casual Dining

Supports local community activities – Makes charitable contributions, supports community organizations.

Chik-fil-A – Quick Service
Corner Bakery Cafe – Fast Casual
Bob Evans – Family-Style
Bonefish Grill – Casual Dining

Source: Technomic Consumer Restaurant Brand Metrics

These are just three of 50 attributes included in the Consumer Restaurant Brand Metrics program, designed to capture consumers' experience from every angle involving service, restaurant cleanliness, atmosphere and ambiance, food, beverages, takeout, value, brand image, advertising effectiveness, and emotional connection.

More than 107 leading restaurant chains are included in the online database, allowing operators to track their performance against competitors on individual attributes, or by region, demographic group, or designated market area.

The consumer feedback is based on ongoing data collection and compiled from a nationally representative sample of more than 40,000 visits annually and 70,000 cumulative by year end.

Consumer Trends, News, Sustainability, Chick-fil-A, Corner Bakery Cafe, In-N-Out Burger, Jimmy John's, McAlister's Deli