Millennials Are Changing the Definition of Brand Value for Restaurant Marketers

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

If you need a quick primer on Millennial consumer trends, give this video a look.


The New Definition of Brand Value

Let’s define brand value in today’s Millennial-inspired Participation Economy

gen y marketing trends

Copyright © 2013 by Barkley. All rights

Depending on the category within the restaurant industry that your brand competes in, the definition of brand value probably looks more precisely like the following:

Brand value = Food quality + Unique flavor profiles + Alcohol + Transparency + Customer Service + “Effective” use of new technology (before/during/post meal) + Consumer participation opportunities divided by price.

Obviously the coefficient in front of each dependent variable would vary based on your brand DNA and the customer segment you choose to serve.

Let’s examine each dependent variable further.

Food quality

You ain’t nothin’ if you don’t have great food – 60% of Millennials consider themselves the most important criterion for choosing a restaurant.  However, Millennial loyalty only goes so deep.  So, consider this “table stakes” and pardon the pun. From there, look at other important considerations such as good value for the money, order accuracy and key basics that are “price of admission” factors but rarely differentiating.

Unique Flavor Profiles

Millennials have a hankering for affordable adventures, tasting and sampling.  Barkley’s research with The Boston Consulting Group and Service Management Group found that 77% of Millennials enjoy eating a variety of different ethnic cuisines, which gives restaurants ample opportunities for appealing to the Millennial palate.

This doesn’t apply only to exotic flavors. For example, Millennials love chicken wings – after all, the variety of different dipping sauces with every order is almost as exciting as the actual wing.


We know Millennials enjoy a craft beer from time to time. They also enjoy a wide range of other adult beverages according to a recent research report from Scarborough. Add to this the fact that Millennials are far more likely than other age groups to view eating out as an opportunity for socializing with family and friends. With alcohol on the menu next to good food, you have a party waiting and available for your Millennial customers.

Transparency & Authenticity

One of my favorite dives is Big Truck Tacos in Oklahoma City.  Big Truck is home to The Fifth Amendment taco.  Ask the staff what’s on it and they’ll plead the fifth – you gotta love that. You’ll find out the next day, the fun twist in the transparency represented by nutritional information on restaurant menu boards.

Chipotle and McDonald’s are better-known brands that have done a good job with letting consumers know more about the food products and practices of their growers. Just recently, Chipotle added an Ingredients Statement to their online menu flagging which ingredients are local and organic, as well as those containing GMOs, hydrogenated oils and preservatives.

Customer Service

As mentioned earlier, Millennials place a high value on restaurants getting their orders right every time. They also value responsive and friendly employees. Quick transactions and food preparation make their experience worthwhile and memorable. Of course, these are important to customers of all ages, so improvements in these areas are winning across the board.


Restaurants can take advantage of many great emerging tech tools that give them the opportunity to showcase their menus and reward customers for their business.

  • Forkly is an app that shows “what’s good” at various restaurants. Rather than offering restaurant reviews, it highlights menu items.  Traveling to a city with great dives, this app provides ease and trust. I’m fond of saying, Useful Is The New Cool® and this is both useful and cool!
  • ChowNow is a service that allows restaurants to offer online ordering via website, app or Facebook.  It is product focused on the operator, which offers enhanced consumer functionality.
  • FrontFlip takes the place of loyalty cards with a scan-and-scratch app that customers can download for the chance to win prizes at their favorite restaurants.  Millennials love a little adventure and FrontFlip ensures that with every visit.

Millennials would prefer to skip the “fuss” that many older generations enjoyed when they went out to dinner versus the convenience, ease and accessibility offered by technology.  Below you’ll see a new product from Axon Displays that Freddy’s put in their units.  It’s pretty useful too!


Participation & Convenience Touch Screen

In summary, Millennials love dining out.  It’s a social event that often involves friends.  Many restaurants that have historically targeted families with special “family size offers” and “kid toys” will need to re-think their approach to Millennials. Meanwhile, the convenience of fast casual or dine-in restaurants are winning with the reliability and participation aspect they bring to the table.



Photo Credit: Peter Hellberg via Flickr

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.