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How You Can Appeal to Millennials With an Eco-Restaurant

May 13 2019 - 11:03am
Recent headlines claim that the sustainability market will be worth $1 trillion a year by 2030. A significant portion of that can be attributed to millennials – the group of individuals born between 1981 and 1997 who are now in their 20s and 30s, commanding a considerably large purchasing power. Their impact is noticeable across most industries, from the rise in popularity of smaller, minimalist homes; upcycling and thrift store shopping trends; the upsurge of plant-based diets, and the social outreach initiatives they continuously undertake in support of the causes they believe in.

So, if you’re in the restaurant business, you’ll be wanting to know how to tap into this market and align your offering with their needs.

There are several ways you could start making your restaurant more appealing to eco-conscious millennials, but you have to keep things authentic and transparent if you want to win over their patronage. Sticking “Green” or “Eco-friendly” labels on your menu isn’t enough – don’t be surprised if your millennial customers want you to back those claims up with evidence.

Let’s take a look at how you can start making things a little bit greener in your establishment.

Sustainable ingredients

The shift in consumer preference towards sustainable ingredients is most strongly represented in the purchasing choices of millennials, with 75% reportedly changing their buying habits for reasons related to environmental welfare. There is a real desire amongst this age group for consuming organic, fresh, whole foods and you’ll be hard pressed to find a modern city without a trendy retailer or restaurant that caters to these needs.

Veganism and the demand for plant-based dishes is not a trend that shows any signs of dissipating. This is largely due to the fact that it’s not merely a fad; it stems from a genuine concern about the harmful impact of carbon emissions from livestock farming.

Including seasonal dishes on your menu and building strong relationships with local suppliers and farmers will appeal to consumers who take these factors into consideration when choosing a dining experience. This also creates a positive feedback loop between your restaurant and community. Choosing suppliers that engage in responsible production and farming methods is, therefore, a great starting point for your green initiatives.

Minimising waste and protecting the environment

Clean menus and restaurants that can demonstrate a strong commitment to reducing food waste get a positive vote of confidence from younger customers. Reportedly, 72% of US diners are concerned with how restaurants manage this issue.

It’s hard to miss the variety of reusable coffee cups which are now prominently on display in almost every major coffee chain, or the range of trendy, colourful reusable water bottles that millennials can often be seen with. More recently, plastic straws have been booted out favour in exchange for recyclable paper ones.

Ideas on how to reduce waste in your restaurant:

  1. Keep strict control of your stock – Knowing what you have to hand at all times eliminates the chance of making repeat purchases and not using your existing ingredients. Make sure your shelves are organised, and your stock accounted for.

  2. Store your perishables correctly – Make sure that each ingredient in your kitchen is stored in a way that prolongs its life as much as possible.

  3. Educate staff – Kitchens can get very busy, very quickly, often encouraging employees to act negligibly to keep up with the pace. Ensure that you have an efficient system in place which supports waste management and that all employees know the necessary procedure.

  4. Track the success of your dishes – Some items on your menu may not be getting the orders you expected. If you can’t revitalise the recipe to encourage more interest, it’s time to remove it from the menu instead of keeping ingredients for a meal that you’re not producing in worthwhile quantities.

  5. Incentivise customers to pitch in – If you run a takeaway kind of establishment, invite customers to bring their own coffee mugs or even Tupperware. You can reward this behaviour with loyalty points and vouchers.

  6. Recycle and compost – Make sure that all recyclables in your business are sorted and taken to your local recycling centre. Where possible, compost suitable leftovers.

Sharing with your audience how your restaurant works towards reducing waste is a great way to gain their support. Particularly because this target audience will be completely unphased by gimmicky labels that shout about how green you are – they want real confirmation. Leverage your social media channels, roll up your sleeves and start showing a genuine interest in sustainability.

Create a brand that addresses the millennial’s need for self-expression

Millennials are a purpose-driven generation. They seek meaning and opportunities to define themselves as individuals. Restaurants should capitalise on this desire by tailoring their services and products to align with the customer’s core values.

Clever marketing tactics and grand statements about sustainability don’t wash with tech-savvy millennials. They will Google, Wikipedia and YouTube all of your claims, and then they will discuss them with their friends on social media platforms. If you’re going to stand for something, you need to make sure that your intentions and actions harmonise in order to earn the support of your millennial customers.

From a restaurant perspective, this means taking into consideration the millennial’s priorities; these include the following:

  • a need for a sense of community,

  • a desire to affiliate with sustainable initiatives,

  • concern about health and wellbeing, and

  • animal welfare.

Contemplate the layout of your restaurant, is it suitable for large groups of diners as well as small intimate gatherings. Do you use products and furnishings that are sustainable and come from a traceable source? Do you treat your staff fairly and remunerate them accordingly. Large, hearty meals are so 70s – are your dishes tailored to individuals who are more likely to graze or prefer sharing platters with their friends?

Why would you want to?

From a citizen of Planet Earth perspective, why wouldn’t you?

Even from a purely financial aspect, it makes sense to take initiatives which protect the environment because more often than not, they are cost-effective, and, in some cases, subsidised by government.

Food trends and consumer demands are demonstrably leaning towards eco-consciousness sustainability. In the UK, organic food sales were reported to have grown for seven consecutive years in 2018. Increased availability of information regarding nutrition as well as a shift in focus toward a healthy, active old-age as opposed to mere longevity are causing the food industry to adapt and cater to the needs of these forward-thinking consumers.

Furthermore, taking steps to decrease your business’ carbon footprint now could help make your restaurant more easily adaptable to the inevitable introduction of new laws which will hold more and more businesses accountable for the waste they produce.

Ultimately, Earth is our home, regardless of age or life-stage. The necessity for individuals and businesses to align their goals where sustainability is concerned could make a huge difference in the lives of future generations and shift the outlook for our planet in general. Are you ready to start making your restaurant more sustainable?

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