How Millennials and Mobile Technology Will Change the Restaurant Industry As We Know It

Generation Y is vastly different from Generation X for one sole reason:  They're “digitally native” not “digitally learned.”  This new generation dubbed the "millennials" ranges from 19 year old consumers to those in their mid 30s and numbers over 80 million and not only makes up the majority of the customer base but also have a significant influence over other generations.  Now diners aren't impressed if your restaurant implements the use of technology- they expect it.  Take a look at five trends in mobile technology that are influenced by the millennial generation.  

Internet Community

The term has "community" has two meanings that are implicit in the restaurant industry.  One is the value that millennials place on awareness and giving back.  Social responsibility and sustainability are important to millennials and it is necessary for restaurants to make potential customers aware of their community outreach because the reality is- they care.  An easy way to do this is on social media sites.  Additionally, the idea of community also plays into online communications through outlets like social networking sites.  The restaurant industry should pay special attention to various review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor which are growing in popularity.  Social media has created an interconnectedness in the community of restaurant goers who trust user-generated content.  Having bad reviews online has the potential to destroy your business.  


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Convenience & Speed

In a world where everything is instant (unless there's bad cell-phone service), waiting for a meal is at the very least best described as undesirable.  The usage of mobile apps by restaurants is an attempt to cut down wait times and decrease errors.  Mobile technology can allow customers to pre-order their favorite meals thus letting customers skip the line and decreasing wait times for those who show up spontaneously.  At the end of the day, we'd rather our food wait for us.  Additionally, mobile ordering produces fewer errors than a human which also increases the efficiency of your restaurant.  Having food come quick and without errors is desirable for any diner.  


Informality is becoming the norm.  The growing popularity of fast-casual restaurants is a testament to the millennial influenced shift away from a more expensive fine dining experience.  Because millennials eat out frequently but also are aware of money, fast-casual restaurants perfectly serve their needs.  Informality also plays into the communication restaurants have with consumers.  Because the majority of your potential and current customers are online, communication will shift to the internet and social media sites.  Social media is a great way to organically share your content.  The language that restaurants choose to use with outreach over social media must be natural and connect with the people who are going to read it (who will most likely be millennials).


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The trend of customizing your order has developed along with the aforementioned new ways of ordering and allows the self-described "foodie" generation greater control over their meal.  As shared above, mobile apps let customers pre-order their meals.  However, they also can allow diners to greatly customize their orders because they have a larger space to display options over a traditional menu.  With a greater emphasis on health, millennials can see exactly what goes into their meal.  Additionally, a study by BBDO Atlanta on millennials showed that an increasing amount wanted to be more adventurous in their food choices, and customizations features allow for just that.  

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Millennials care about where their food came from.  Transparency is key in developing the trust of customers.  Sharing with customers where the ingredients and produce you use originates from is important for developing relationships with returning customers and building a trustworthy and honest business.  Apps like HarvestMark allows consumers to receive a full profile of the farm from which the produce originated, the way it was grown, and if the farm has any history of food borne illnesses.  The implementation of technology like this in restaurants will generate an open and reliable way for customers to know what they're eating before they eat it.  


We think that mobile technology will certainly play an important role in the restaurant industry in the future.  However, will this technology take away from the intimacy of the dining experience? Let us know what you think in the comments.