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How To Serve Customers From Different Generations In Your Restaurant

How To Serve Customers From Different Generations In Your Restaurant

Standing out from the crowd can be challenging in today’s digital world. That’s why it’s so crucial for hospitality businesses to focus on their marketing efforts and effectively communicate with their customer to remain competitive.

However, when it comes to connecting with customers, it can be challenging to understand who they are and how best to communicate with them. This is where generational marketing comes in.

Understanding and utilising generational marketing tactics is an excellent way for hospitality businesses to build a strong foundation to establish and grow their marketing strategy.

But what is generational marketing, and how will it benefit your business? 

6 Proven ways to promote your venue

Promoting your venue can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know where to start. Thankfully, we have just the eGuide for you.

What is generational marketing?

Generational marketing is a marketing strategy that segments customers by generation so you can better market to them. By understanding the motivations, challenges and habits of each generation and the marketing channels they’re most likely to engage with, it’s much easier to craft marketing messages that will appeal to each generation.

There are currently four main generations:

  • Baby Boomers: born between 1946 – 1964
  • Generation X (Gen X): born between 1965 – 1980
  • Generation Y (Millenials): born between 1981 – 1996
  • Generation Z (Gen Z): born between 1997 – 2012

What are the key characteristics of each generation?

Each generation tends to have its own set of overarching characteristics that range from shared beliefs and experiences to technological capabilities and financial stability – all of which influence how they think and act. 

Let’s explore some of the popular characteristics associated with each generation.

Baby Boomers

  • Have the most purchasing power of all the generations. Despite this, only 5-10% of marketing activity is targeted toward Baby Boomers.
  • Empty nesters who are retired or close to retirement.
  • Lived most of their lives without modern technology, like smartphones and computers.
  • Many have embraced social media, mobile devices and online shopping. 82% of Baby Boomers are active on at least one social media site.
  • Often tempted by special offers and are brand loyal. 71% of Baby Boomers participate in loyalty programs to get discounts and deals.

You’ll find them on: Facebook

Most influenced by: traditional advertising

Gen X

  • Grew up in a recession and are more cautious with their finances.
  • Trust brands, companies and marketing less than other generations. 54% of Gen X feel overlooked or forgotten by brands. 
  • The most brand loyal generation.
  • Familiar with social media, technology and the internet. 81% of Gen X have made purchases online.

You’ll find them on: Facebook, LinkedIn

Most influenced by: email marketing, word of mouth

Millenials

  • The largest generation in the current workforce.
  • Grew up with modern technology. 
  • More likely to spend than save and favour value over convenience, making them the least brand-loyal generation. Only 29% of Millennials will buy the same brand, which is a much lower brand loyalty score than other generations. 
  • Favour businesses than are socially and environmentally conscious. 
  • Prefer user-generated content (UGC) and word of mouth referrals to traditional marketing campaigns. 84% of Millennials say that UGC influences their purchasing decisions.

You’ll find them on: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest

Most influenced by: reviews, blogs

Gen Z

  • The most tech-savvy generation.
  • While still young, they hold a considerable amount of spending power.
  • Rely on reviews, recommendations and social media to inform purchasing decisions. 77% of Gen Z take personal recommendations into account before making a purchase. 
  • Less brand loyal and less likely to belong to a loyalty program.
  • Value financial stability and are sensible spenders. 

You’ll find them on: TikTok, Youtube, Snapchat

Most influenced by: videos, influencers

What are the benefits of generational marketing?

Generational marketing provides a strong foundation for hospitality businesses to build their marketing on. Unlike other marketing segments, like gender or location, generational groups allow you to gain a complete understanding of your customers. 

Generational marketing helps you determine how to communicate with certain customers, which channels to promote your products, and the type of offers likely to resonate. 

In a nutshell, generational marketing provides businesses with a tool kit on how best to communicate with certain customer groups and how to reach them.

While generational marketing is a great starting point for your marketing strategy, it shouldn’t be your only form of segmentation. Generalising such a large cohort of people solely based on when they were born can be limiting and lack deeper insights. Therefore, it’s important to take other factors, such as income, location and occupation, into consideration when you’re crafting your marketing campaigns.

Should you market to all generations?

The short answer – it depends.

The long answer?

Your generational marketing strategy will depend on your business type and customer base. Some hospitality venues will have an obvious target market that will only appeal to one or two generations, whereas others will attract a broad range of customers.

While only targeting one generation has its merits (it’s easier to craft one, unified marketing message, for example) venues could lose out if they only choose to market to one generation. 

For example, if a hospitality business decides to only target Millenials, the majority of whom are in the workforce, they may have a lack of customers to fill their quieter periods, during the days or on weeknights.  

However, appealing to all generations, particularly baby boomers (retirees) who are time-affluent, will help to get customers through the door and open up your venue’s appeal to a wider range of customers.

How to market to each generation 

As we touched on earlier, each generation has its own characteristics. As a result, each generation will respond differently to certain marketing communications, requiring a different approach for each group.

While there are some blurred lines between generations, these tips can function as a rule of thumb for each generation.

Baby Boomers

  1. Facebook86% of Baby Boomers use Facebook more than any other social media platform. And while Baby Boomers are more likely than any other generation to consume traditional advertising, like TV and newspapers, it will be much easier (and cheaper) for hospitality businesses to reach and communicate with their Boomer customers via Facebook.
  2. Language – it’s essential to consider your language when communicating with Baby Boomers. Generation-specific slang can alienate certain customers, so it’s important to keep things simple to avoid miscommunication.  
  3. Accessible design – ensuring all of your design elements are accessible and easy to read is crucial when marketing to Baby Boomers. Small, hard to read fonts are a no-no, and dark text on a light background is preferable. 

Gen X

  1. Loyalty programs70% of businesses report Gen X as the most brand-loyal consumers. As the most brand-loyal generation, Gen X is most likely to belong to a loyalty program and respond to loyalty offers. Therefore, communicating your loyalty program and offers to Gen X customers via email is the best way to ensure they return for a repeat visit. 
  2. Website72% of Gen X research businesses online before making a purchase or deciding to visit. As a result, hospitality businesses need to ensure their website is up-to-date and contains relevant information, such as your menu, opening hours and how to make a booking.
  3. Third-party sites – as Gen X like to research businesses before visiting, ensure your venue is visible on third-party sites like Trip Advisor, Google My Business and Zomato to boost your reach. 

Millenials 

  1. UGC – UGC is any form of content, such as images and videos that are posted online by users. Millennials favour authentic content and social proof, making UGC a great way for hospitality businesses to connect with Millennials. Actively encourage customers to take photos or videos in your venue and tag you in their social media photos. This is a great way to generate free content for your venue while also appealing to Millenial customers.
  2. Conscious consumers75% of Millennials are willing to spend more at environmentally-friendly and sustainable businesses. Businesses should consider this when marketing to Millennials and promote any sustainable practices, such as locally sourced ingredients or a commitment to going plastic-free.
  3. Events & experiences78% of Millennials would rather spend their money on an event or experience than material possessions. While visiting a hospitality venue is an experience in itself, businesses should consider other events – such as wine tastings, live music or trivia nights – to further entice Millennials through the door.

Gen Z

  1. Shared beliefs – Gen Z are more likely to be loyal to brands that share their same beliefs and are more likely than Millenials to spend money with sustainable businesses. Transparency is key for Gen Z, and they favour businesses that make a stand on social issues – so it’s important to communicate your values as a business when marketing to Gen Z.
  2. Quick sell – you have less than 10 seconds to grab the attention of Gen Z, so your marketing needs to be bold, attention-seeking and straight to the point. Interactive or personalised content is some of the best ways to attract and engage with Gen Z.
  3. Videos – with 95% of Gen Z using Youtube and over 60% of TikTok’s total user base being Gen Z, video content is one of the best ways to market to this generation. Your video content needs to be short, snappy and authentic – think behind the scenes content, recipe videos and venue tours.

What do the generations have in common?

While each generation has its own preferences and preferred marketing channels, there are some commonalities between generational groups.

  • Customers favour personalisation. 88% of Millennials desire personalised marketing communications, followed by 87% of Gen Z, 82% of Gen X and 77% of Boomers.
  • Email is a universal favourite. In terms of direct communication channels, email marketing is a popular choice for all generations, with 64% of Millennials favouring email, followed by 58% of Boomers at 58%, 56% of Gen Z and 53% of Gen.

Generational marketing: the foundation of your marketing strategy

Adopting a generational marketing strategy for your hospitality business has countless benefits – from understanding how to communicate with certain age groups to knowing which marketing channels to use and what offers to promote.

However, it’s important to note that generational marketing should be a starting point or foundation for your marketing efforts – rather than a complete strategy. By using generational segments, combined with other factors such as gender, average spend and favourite products, you’ll be able to craft a holistic marketing strategy to engage and build relationships with your customers. 

6 Proven ways to promote your venue

Promoting your venue can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know where to start. Thankfully, we have just the eGuide for you.

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