For those wondering, ‘why all the fuss about Millennials lately?’ the answer is simple. Not since Baby Boomers has the world seen a generation of such size and potential earning and spending scope. At more than 80 million strong, these 21-36 year olds represent 25 percent of the total population, according to Technomic. They currently leverage around $170 billion in spending power—a number that’s poised to grow as they further mature. Millennials will account for 50 percent of the workforce by 2020 and 75 percent a decade later. Technomic research also shows that as patrons, the generation currently accounts for $24 of every $100 spent in restaurants—a number that’s expected to increase to at least $40 over the next 10 years.
As a nonprofit, dedicated to eradicating childhood hunger in America, No Kid Hungry® views Millennials as key to the organization’s success in hunger advocacy, securing volunteer talent, and fundraising support. In addition, because of its ties to the foodservice industry, top chefs and restaurateurs, understanding how to motivate Millennials, both as employees and patrons, is critical.
Empathizing with a generation’s core values is vital to understanding behaviors and learning the nuances of multi-generational communication. Not everyone within a generation reacts to situations the same, but you can generally spot a good deal in common. Growing up, Millennials found the world to be a scarier place than did their parents. September 11, Columbine, the global war on terrorism—no wonder they’re tense. These things, along with the explosion of digital and social media have led to a generation that values transparency in communications, relies on peers and virtual communities for input, reveres technology, expects diversity and social inclusion, and is highly self-expressive and creative. As is true for all generations, Millennials support brands that align with their beliefs.
Because they’re so passionate about leaving their mark on the world and making a difference, Millennials respond to brands that connect with them digitally, value diversity and are socially responsible. Technomic reports that 57 percent of Millennials say it’s highly important to support their values through spending. On average, a third of them strongly agree that they are more likely to visit limited- and full-service restaurants that support their values.
Embracing a cause and communicating to Millennials how supporting your brand contributes to the greater good can be a recipe for success. A word of caution, however: authenticity and transparency are of utmost importance to this generation. Cause-marketing efforts should be well thought out and in line with the brand’s corporate culture. It has to resonate with you before it can resonate with anyone else.