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Valuable Food Service Tips for Attracting & Engaging Millennials

Erika Kramer
Erika Kramer | June 14, 2017

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The Millennial generation is one that has many operators scratching their heads. This is due largely in part to the differences in their interests and behaviors. Each generation sees the world a little differently which brings about new challenges when it comes to developing a marketing strategy that grabs their interest. This generation is no different in that regard. As the food service industry continues to change, it is imperative that operators look for unique ways to appeal to these young adults as both diners in their establishments as well as employees. If you like so many others are in this category of operators, we've got some tips that just might help you out.


Millennials are the generation born between 1980 and 2000. According to Heinz Foodservice, they’re a culturally diverse, tech-savvy demographic with about $1.72 trillion in spending power.

“Millennials want to be game changers, and they want to reduce their impact on the planet,” says Kim Cupelli, director of Heinz Group57 Customer and Segment Marketing. “To attract Millennials, take a page from campus dining, where operators focus on health and wellness and sustainability.”

“Consider that Millennials want big flavors without paying big money,” says Dan Burrows, SeniorCorporate Chef with Heinz Foodservice. “They want fast service and don’t want to sit for hours for a formal meal. They want wild and unusual dishes with a focus on freshness and presentation.”

And when chefs deliver a great dining experience, Millennials want to share it with their extensive networks in blogs, texts, online reviews and, of course, photo posts. One restaurant reported that in just one week, 654 photos were posted online of 30 items on their menu. Think about the power of that kind of promotion!


When you mention the millennial generation to hiring and supervising managers, you may hear a lot of grumbles. Because Millennials are oftentimes game changers who place a large focus on their experiences and social sharing, it can sometimes take a different point of view to effectively manage them.

Here are some tips for working with Millennials:

Millenials are used to a fast pace and change. If you are moving too slow and not allowing them to improve processes, add to programs or get rid of something that isn’t working,this could lead them to become unengaged. Make sure that you provide an environment where employees can voice their opinions…and be recognized for their successes.

Communication for Millenials is multi-faceted. Consider all the ways this generation uses to communicate: Facebook posts, tweeting, posting pictures on Instagram, etc. You cannot rely on just one method of communication to engage this group. You can give them a to-do list with goals, for example, but you should allow time to sit down with them and talk about the goals along the way.

For Millennials, having an impact means more than just making a difference at work. If you can offer programs that involve the community and create an environment where they see what they are doing having a positive effect, that is going to mean a lot to them. It can be something as simple as having a backpack drive or adopting a family during the holidays. Even better, give them the opportunity to take charge of a community project. See what they can do and the engagement you get from them in their daily work as a result.

Foodservice Trends for 2017 Podcast



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