Millennials are changing the way we do business. As the largest generation in the American workforce, Millennials have immense spending power, and their cultural values are starting to dictate supply and demand. So, what do they value most?

More than half of Millennials consider themselves “foodies.” With ready access to global flavors, affordable “fine casual” dining, and online ordering, it’s easy for this generation to sample a wide variety of cuisines. In addition, this generation is more focused on health and wellness than Baby Boomers or even Generation X. Together, these two trends have a drastic impact on food and the foodservice industry. For example, did you know that organic food sales have almost tripled in the past decade?

As always, knowledge is power. Restaurant operators can easily learn more about Millennials’ favorite food trends in an effort to cater to these discerning guests.

 

Get Visual

Social media is the primary way Millennials connect with each other. Eve Turow recently authored the book A Taste of Generation Yum: How the Millennial Generation’s Love for Organic Fare, Celebrity Chefs, and Microbrews Will Make or Break the Future of Food. She tells the Atlantic that this generation’s obsession with food comes, in part, from a strong desire for community. In particular, she says, this comes from our relationship with social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow Millennial diners to share opinions with each other 24/7. However, Turow said, “it’s also making us more isolated. We’re craving community. And food is also allowing us to access the globe, so we can find out what harissa is made with and how to prepare something with it, in two seconds on our phones.”

According to Turow, food bridges the gaps created by social media. As a tangible art form, food is both a way for Millennials to connect with each other across great distances, and to celebrate when they have time to meet in person.

For restaurants, it’s vital to connect with Millennial diners online – especially on Instagram, the most visual social platform. Sharing photos of your menu items gets these guests excited about eating, and also makes it easy for them to start conversations with each other. Foster the community Millennials crave, and they will bring their friends to your restaurant.

 

Organic Growth

Millennials’ strong opinions about food allow these guests to take control of their health. In an age when health care is hard to come by for many Americans, nutritious food is more important than ever. Whether they’re buying organic ingredients, trying out a paleo diet, or just eating local foods, there are more ways than ever for Americans to engage with their own eating habits.

52% of organic food buyers are Millennials. That’s quite a lot compared to Gen X, who come in at 35%, and the Baby Boomers, who account for just 14% of people who buy organic. For restaurants that serve mostly Millennial guests, this data should impact the ingredients you buy as well as the way you describe menu items. With the proper Point of Sale system, it’s easy for restaurant operators to review sale data and see whether guests care about these signifiers. (A cafeteria in a senior center, for example might not see the financial benefits of going all-organic.)

Millennial consumers entered the workforce during one of the greatest economic downturns in history. As a result, they have always been focused on affordable luxuries. They may not be buying homes as readily as their parents did, but they’re eating more takeout than ever before – probably due to the advent of online ordering. These well-educated, underemployed Americans seek out the finer things in life wherever they can. Most often, that means going to a local restaurant. How does your restaurant cater to Millennial diners?