You can tell a lot about a person by their reaction to the idea of restaurant food delivery. Those in their 20’s and 30’s (Millennials) say “Oh, yeah, I use that all the time.” Those 45-65 have usually heard of it, but don’t have restaurant food delivered themselves. They might say, “My kids use that to order late-night snacks on the weekend with their friends.” And my 92-year old grandmother stares at me in wonder and says, “You mean a restaurant will just bring you anything you want?”
But delivery is not just for millennials. While Millennials are leading the charge, other age cohorts are adopting restaurant delivery, each for different reasons. Being successful as a digital-first restaurant and selling your product online requires understanding those reasons, targeting the groups that resonate most with your brand, and developing marketing messaging to match.
What follows is my break down of each age cohort’s delivery behavior and motivation, with Kitchen United’s Mike Mirkil (VP, Consumer Marketing) chipping in advice for optimizing marketing towards that demographic.
Millennials: Delivery Naturals
29% of Millennials order restaurant delivery each week. 80% of those aged 18-34 have ordered restaurant delivery at some time. An average Millennial spends $1000 (nearly 25%) less each year on groceries for preparation at home than someone their same age just 10 years ago. That portion of their budget is flowing to…you guessed it: delivery.* For this group, the behavior is natural. The question is frequency, ticket size, and market share. How do you get Millennials to order more food, more often, from your restaurant?
Mike Mirkil: Restaurants that best market to this lucrative audience live where they live: on social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube. By creating appetizing content and pushing it out through social and paid digital ads they keep themselves top-of-mind and therefore more likely to get that order when it comes time to eat.
They also invest heavily in mobile apps that create engaging user experiences, and importantly less time, effort, and friction from consideration to order and payment.
GenZ: Delivery Natives
The next generation – Gen Z/GenWe/iGen – uses delivery to procure the food they want when adults are not present to prepare or procure it for them. One friend told me his son’s school put up a sign saying the front office would no longer accept deliveries and there was such a reaction to this policy that the school was forced to develop procedures for receiving and distributing students’ orders. Another friend told me his daughter uses delivery to get McDonald’s for her after-school snack, and many parents have told me that delivery has replaced pizza as the go-to kid meal while the parents are out to date night. Parents often link their credit card to delivery apps on their children’s phones as a way to ensure the child eats when the parent is away.
MM: Marketing to this group means appealing to parents. Many restaurant brands have gotten much better in recent years serving kid’s meals that meet parents’ standards for health and nutrition.
GenX: Saved By Delivery
My generation – GenX (ages 39-53) – is a time-starved generation. GenX is primarily made up of single heads of household or dual-income households. Rarely is there a professional homemaker present. GenX’s use of delivery is primarily driven out of need for convenience. These households often need to eat quickly without a lot of time spent on shopping or preparing meals. Quick-service Restaurant adoption grew in the late 80’s and early 90’s in lock-step with women entering the workforce. As traditional homemakers had less and less time available to make house, eating conveniently was at a premium. As women’s workforce participation leveled, QSR growth leveled off as well. Fast forward 20 years, and consumers have started to value perceived health, local-ness, and variety. But the desire for convenience still exists, and what is more convenient than a meal that appears at your door? Delivery enables convenience married to perceived health and offers local-ness, quality and variety that most QSR’s can’t compete with.
MM: Convincing this generation to order more of their favorite restaurants via delivery includes creating awareness of this new channel of delivery via the key third-party marketplaces and generating trial. Once they realize DoorDash, Grubhub and Postmates are tools for optimizing their daily lives, they’ll be hooked.
Boomers: Delivery as a Luxury
Empty Nesters (older GenX and Boomers) appear to be the slowest group to adopt delivery. Initial users are very high income who use it to replace an upscale sit-down occasion or to follow a specific diet. These people enjoy ordering an expensive dinner – like sushi – and dining at home. Occasional users may order delivery while on vacation, but not at home. While many Empty Nesters are selling their large suburban homes and choosing urban, single-floor condos as they contemplate aging gracefully (and getting rid of yard work, stairs, and home maintenance), they are also seeing the benefits delivery offers because it is so ubiquitous in their new urban environments.
Awareness and trial are key to motivate this target and the marketplaces fully understand this, with national TV campaigns from Grubhub and others out there on the airwaves and FREE delivery offers appearing nearly every week.
The Silent Generation: Delivery Beneficiaries
The Silent Generation longs to age in place. The challenging parts of aging in place are cooking, cleaning and errands. I currently use delivery to send things to my grandmother, but as she gets proficient with her iPad, I can imagine her ordering things for herself. And I can certainly imagine my tech-savvy parents adopting delivery as they reach my grandmother’s age. For brands looking to target this audience, consider focusing on offline vehicles like direct mail and print.
Each of these age cohorts represents a possible target demographic for your digital-first restaurant, and all will be digital-ordering adopters in the next few years. How will you connect with them?
Meredith Sandland is the Chief Operating Officer, and Mike Mirkil the VP of Consumer Marketing, of Kitchen United.
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