Restaurant goers are getting younger and younger, so what does this mean for the future of marketing?

Coined by the New York Times, the Gastronomic Youthquake is truly something spectacular to behold. It is a movement, a way of life, spreading rapidly across the globe where festivals and gigs are selling fewer and fewer tickets. Instead restaurants are taking more and more bookings for tables - tables for the young.

Here at CAB we came across the term "Gastronomic Youthquake" about a month ago. Like all marketing trends we approached it sceptically at first, unsure as to whether it was something of value or if it was just another bout of hot air blowing into the stratosphere of marketing jargon. This is the research we have based this exploration on as, if the Gastronomic Youthquake is a 'thing', we would like to know how best to approach it and, more importantly, we would like to know how we can help our restaurant clients make the most out of a new wave of marketing potential.

What is the Gastronomic Youthquake?

There is an interesting demographic statistic which states that as people get older they spend a smaller percentage of their income on eating out. This is exactly what would be expected and QSR Magazine conducted research into this, finding that those who are richest spend approximately 39% of their total food expenditure on meals out.

The above statistics may not be shocking or even surprising, however it becomes more interesting the more research is done into it. For instance, those aged below 25 years of age spend a massive 46.1% of their food allowances on meals out. This is not takeaways, but actual meals out.

What the Gastronomic Youthquake recognises is how this trend is not only moving globally, but how important it is to the international restaurant market. What it essentially means is that the Babyboomers are no longer the primary audience of restaurateurs across the globe. Instead Gen Y and the Millennial demographic are those who are taking restaurants by storm, and with them come some other interesting trends.

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What does the Gastronomic Youthquake mean?

The Millennial/Gen Y generations should not be treated like the Babyboomers as the two could not be further apart. Unlike previous generations, Gen Y onwards are experts at balancing their lives using technology, Social Media, and new concepts or ideas. What this means, oddly enough, is that this has bred a culture not of convenience but rather of comfort. These generations are not so interested in fast food as in what makes them feel good.

McDonald's themselves have admitted that they have a problem communicating with Millennials as, even in their native country of America, McDonald's is rarely considered in a Millennial's top 10 places to eat. The reason behind this is because of a seeming quantity over quality approach that McDonald's have.

The Gastronomic Youthquake is the movement of being able to blend customer moments, technology, and great food into a seamless experience. It is a movement of community and culture, not hamburgers and haste.

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How To Market To The Foodie Generation

The key is this statement - that Millennials and Gen Y are not interested in convenience but rather they are interested in comfort. What this means is that restaurants can get incredibly clever as to how they market to these foodie generations. This can be as extravagant as rebranding for some restaurants, however it need not be like that for most. Instead there are a few primary ways of standing out.

The first of these is to embrace new technologies when it comes to food and service. More and more restaurants are allowing for customers to book tables online and a few are moving towards allowing software like Flypay in order to increase convenience and reduce overheads on staff. 

A few more restaurants are taking it one step further still, allowing ordering to happen through tablets and allowing ambience settings to be controlled through technological touchpoints on the dining table. 

With this in mind it is important to market to the digital persona as well as the physical person of any Millennial or Gen Y customer. Therefore it is incredibly important for restaurants to build their social persona. Social is more than just a tool, it is a way of appealing and providing a human front to any company, and restaurants are no exception.

Why Does The Human Side Attract Millennials and Gen Y?

There is a school of thought escalated by the top UK food bloggers and New York Times respectively that talks about food being the new music, and why this is the case. In much the same way that music gets more popular the more anti-establishment it is as is the world with restaurants. The more fast food joints and convenience food takes over the more movements there will be to try and take gourmet food back. These movements can be encouraged by restaurants, smaller chains and independents alike.

The truth is very simple. Unless restaurants are ready to encourage the Gastronomic Youthquake they will struggle. Their only other option is to prepare and get ready - it's coming.