5 Restaurant Marketing Tips to Attract Millennials and College Students

College students are known to indulge their take-out and delivery cravings throughout the school year, but exam time brings restaurant order volumes to a new level. Our own research found that food deliveries to college libraries are 154 percent more likely during exams than any other time during the semester.

Today’s college crowd may be young – almost all of them qualify as millennials, now the largest living age group in the U.S. – but they can have mature preferences when it comes to their dining options. Here are five restaurant marketing ideas for attracting college students and the rest of the millennial generation:

Put their content on display

Studies show that millennials are more likely to trust user-generated content (e.g., customers’ Instagram pictures, status updates or online reviews) than other forms of media and advertising. Encourage your social media-savvy diners to share their pictures, video clips and recommendations of your restaurant with their personal networks – and leverage them for your own digital marketing campaigns – for more authentic outreach.

Think local

More than half of millennials respond positively to marketing content when it’s customized to their location. If you’re trying to appeal to college students, identify ways to tailor your digital ads, social media content and menu specials with the local school’s colors, mascot or sporting events schedule in mind. Something as simple as offering a percentage off the bill for showing your student I.D. can quickly entice nearby students.

Enable online and mobile ordering

For millennials, technology is a critical factor when deciding whether or not to order from a restaurant. Thirty-two percent of these diners say tech factors into their choice of quick-service restaurants, according to the National Restaurant Association. Between class, the library and extracurricular activities, college students are always on the go. If ordering from your restaurant is as easy as a few taps on their smartphone and delivery right to their dorm or apartment you’re that much more likely to win their business.

Don’t forget about Facebook

Social media platforms come and go, but Facebook has been a mainstay of millennials’ lives for years. In fact, millennials rely on Facebook more than search, word of mouth or other forms of social media for information about local restaurants. Aside from creating a Facebook profile for your restaurant (and keeping it current with new promotions, menu specials and contact information), buying paid Facebook display ads can help get your name in front potential diners based on their location and interests.

Be transparent

Millennials are a driving force behind today’s food-conscious movement. Compared to other age groups, they’re more likely to base their dining choices on where and how a restaurant sources its ingredients. Does your restaurant buy its produce or meat from local farms and co-ops? Is your restaurant kitchen committed to using sustainable or organic ingredients, when available? Including this information on your menu and other restaurant marketing channels gives diners more visibility into your operations, and a chance to align their personal ethics with your business values.

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