Baby boomers are a generation of food enthusiasts. According to Technomic Inc., 45 percent of all baby boomers love everything about food—from trying new restaurants, to talking about local favorites, to visiting restaurant and food-based websites, and watching cooking shows. With boomers comprising 26 percent of the U.S. population, that’s a lot of food enthusiasts eating at your restaurant. So how do you market your restaurant to attract the baby boomer generation?
Who are the baby boomers?
With more than $2.1 trillion in spending power and time to eat out, this large generation is a target demographic for most restaurant operations. Although boomers have money to spend and time to spend it, they’re not night owls, and so savvy foodservice operators should use early evening specials to target them.
From seafood and fish dishes to Chinese cuisine and sandwiches, everything from full-service restaurants to quick-serve establishments can set themselves up for success by marketing to baby boomers. One thing to watch for, however, is that many boomers are at a stage in their lives where health concerns affect what they eat.
How do you market to baby boomers?
According to Restaurant Hospitality magazine, boomers purchase an average of 193 restaurant meals a year, making this generation impossible to ignore.
1) Offer bigger, more robust flavors
Over the years, smell and taste receptors can often diminish, meaning that for many baby boomers, foods don’t hold the same “oomph” that they used to. By offering bold flavors, such as spice rubs, signature sauces, and more pronounced flavors, boomers can experience a much more flavorful dish when dining out.
2) Present a twist on the original
Though boomers are craving bolder, more pronounced flavors, they’re not necessarily adventurous eaters. Serving twists on the original dishes they love, from Bacon Burger Meatloaf, to Adult Mac ‘n’ Cheese, allows boomers to eat the dishes they grew up with while giving them the bold flavor infusions they crave.
3) Build up breakfast
Focusing boomers’ cravings for robust flavors and spins on classic fare, reinventing breakfast can open the door to a variety of flavors and trends that attracts them. Incorporate a wide range of fruits and vegetables, health-centric proteins (turkey, chicken, egg whites), each in a wide range of presentations.
4) Don’t ignore snacks
Boomers are attracted to the convenience of dining out, and the dining experience should suit their desire to snack. Offering appetizers and sharing plates on the menu is an easy way to satisfy their craving for fast, convenient dishes.
5) Make it healthy
As this generation continues to age, health-related callouts are becoming more and more noticed on menus. Try offering restaurant menu items which are low-fat or fat-free, low-sodium, low-carb, or cholesterol-free.
6) Offer value
Not to be confused with Low Prices. According to Technomic, 74 percent of all boomers will choose a restaurant based on perceived value. That does not mean keep the meals cheap. It means boomers value a fair price for a good meal.
7) Appeal to their social nature
Your waitstaff must be friendly and sociable. It’s important for boomers to feel “at home” when they come to your restaurant. Train your front-of-house staff to learn who their customers are. Run contests to help get servers engaged. Not only will this help the servers earn larger tips, it will entice customers to want visit your restaurant.
8) Reward their loyalty
Boomers love a deal and memberships. In fact, 32 percent of boomers (higher for women) choose a restaurant based on their coupons and deals. Start a frequent dining club card. Get customers to fill out information cards so you can reward them with a free dessert or other incentive on their birthday, anniversary, etc. Or, after 10 meals, give them their 11th meal for free.
9) Don’t overlook beverage service
Soft drinks and fountain beverages top the list as boomers’ most preferred beverages at restaurants. Boomers also prefer iced tea and regular hot coffee more than their younger generations.
Hot tea, smoothies, and specialty coffee are especially appealing to boomer women. Smoothies and hot tea have a healthy positioning, while women may consider specialty coffee to be a treat.