Why Baby Boomers May Be the Key to Your Restaurant’s Success
A study done by market research firm NPD Group (NPD) reveals that America’s 76 million boomers, born 1946-64, were responsible for 23 billion restaurant visits last year, generating $172 billion in sales for our America’s restaurants. Also according to NPD, diners age 55 to 64 make 220 visits a year, up slightly from 2008.
By sheer number, boomers have always played an important role in the economy. However, particularly today when overall consumer spending is down, catering to your older customers may just be the answer to sustaining your restaurant’s profitability.
If you haven’t given much thought to how you can better serve your baby boomer customers, here are a few ideas to consider putting into action.
- Think Smaller Portions: While people entering into retirement are known to be frequent restaurant-goers, they also appreciate smaller portions at a more reasonable price, according to NPD.
- Keep the Noise Down: For the most part, baby boomers enjoy a peaceful and quiet dining experience. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep the music and sound in your bar or restaurant to a respectable level.
- Strive for Attentive and Friendly Service: Certainly everyone appreciates attentive and friendly service when dining out, but boomers are especially appreciative of servers who are knowledgeable, friendly and go the extra mile.
- Make your Menu Easy to Read: Make sure that the lighting is appropriate and that the font size on your menu is large enough for your older patrons to read. Avoid font sizes under 11 pt., in general, and choose font colors and types that are easy on the eyes.
- Offer a Frequent Diner Rewards Card: If your boomer patrons are happy, they will likely become among your most loyal customers. Incentivize them to dine frequently by offering a special frequent diner rewards card. The more they dine, the more discounts and offers they’ll receive for future visits. For more suggestions on how to build a successful loyalty program, you may be interested in reading one of our earlier Smart Ideas blog post: 5 Vital Elements of a Great Loyalty Program.
- Don’t Leave Social Media Out of the Equation: Despite common perception that boomers don’t like technology tools, like social networking sites, the boomer segment engaged in social media is continuing to grow at significant rates. According to Pew Internet, between April 2009 and May 2012, social networking use among Internet users ages 50 to 64 grew by 88 percent, from 25 to 47 percent. During that same time period, use among those ages 65 and older grew 100 percent.
- Put Calorie Counts on the Menu: The debate continues throughout the restaurant industry about whether or not including calorie counts on the menu is good for business. But in the case of health and calorie-conscious baby boomers, including nutritional and calorie information will often be welcomed and appreciated.
With all of these suggestions in mind, you don’t have to completely change your business operations. Just a few changes may just be all that you need to consistently bring more baby boomers through the door.