Last week we established that Millennials are the transparency generation. They are focused on information and have grown up with technology. Millennials do a lot of research, and they rely on social media to learn about the world. Millennials represent 80 million people, or one fourth of the U.S. population, and are expected to outspend Boomers in the next five years. That’s a lot of people who have dollars to spend on the food you produce!
Millennials have grown up eating out; as young adults they like to go out to eat. As Michelle Peterson Murray, Executive Director of Integrated Communications of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association explains, “for Millennials, eating out is a social experience. They eat to entertain as much as eating just to eat.”
Part of their food social experience is sharing what and where they are eating through social media. In regards to food, think about how often you see a picture of someone’s meal posted to your favorite social media site.
One of the fastest growing segments of dining are fast casual restaurants. Fast casual restaurants are somewhere between fast food and a casual dining experiences.
The interpretation is that fast casual dining offers a better value for higher quality food. Fast casual restaurants have these four key points, according Fast Casual, a website that follows the industry.
-Average check between $8-16
-Décor is modern or upscale
-The service model is limited service with the exclusion of wait staff
-Food quality is with fresh ingredients and the food made to order
Fast casual restaurants have experienced growth over the past several years despite the recession. Some well-known examples of fast casual restaurants include Noodles & Company, Five Guys Burger and Fries and Panera Bread.
As the transparency generation, Murray explains that fast casual restaurants resonate with Millennials. They appreciate that many of these restaurants prepare the food in front of them, and they have the option to customize their food order.
When a message resounds with Millennials, they are willing to spend money on a product. Now think back to the advertising that some of these companies have created. The marketing strategies tend to be different than traditional marketing using various forms of social media and interactive apps that can be used over an ongoing basis and seek to be an educational tool. The social and interactive marketing is particularly attractive to Millennials.
Millennials are asking harder questions about where their food comes from, and they are hearing the negative messages about agricultural practices. Are farmers making it easy for them to understand where their food comes from?
This is a group who wants to understand where their food comes from, and by extension wants to hear your farm story. As Murray reminds us, because social media is a big part of Millennials' daily lives, it gives us in agriculture a “chance for us to become more of their lives.”