Digital Experience Demographics Part II

Nov 22, 2021 | Insights

Knowing your guests preferences is key to planning your Digital Guest Experience.

Recently, we published some articles on knowing your guests and the importance of omnichannel marketing for hospitality businesses. Having the one-to-one relationships that omnichannel marketing and loyalty programs can provide is critical, but so is understanding the broader market forces that impact your business. Trends in industries are often segmented by demographic groups, the most common of which is age. Last week we published the 5 Trends for 2021 that we think will impact profitability. This article will look at how four key demographic groups are driving those trends.

Guests born between 1946 – 1964. Colloquially known as The Baby Boom generation or Boomers, this group is large, well established, very financially stable, and much of the cohort is nearing or at retirement age.

Guests born between 1965 – 1980. Known as Generation X, this group is one of the smaller demographic populations. The first generation to have home computers, Gen X is somewhat financially stable and in the middle to late point of their career cycle.

Guests born between 1981 – 1996. Generation Y, more well known as Millennials, are a large demographic following Gen X. Millennials are ‘digital natives’ due to the availability of the internet in their youth and formative years. They have a large cultural footprint and identity and different preferences than previous generations. They are at an intermediate point in their career cycle.

Guests born between 1997 – 2014. Zoomers, or Generation Z, are the youngest demographic with purchasing power. The oldest Zoomer is 24 in 2021, making them an up-and-coming demographic for hospitality. If Millennials are digital natives, Zoomers are the mobile and streaming generation. Gen Z is entering the work force or still in their educational cycle.

While broad grouping can’t predict preferences in any individual, these demographics are useful in understanding how groups developed in similar economic, social, and political environments share tastes and priorities.

Demand for Dine-in is High
As restrictions lift and vaccines help us return to the dining room, there is pent-up demand to return to restaurants and other food & beverage operations. 84% of guests miss dining in a sit-down environment.

When asked, “What are you most excited to do after restrictions are lifted?” Dine at your favorite sit-down restaurant is the first or second-listed choice.

The reasons for wanting to get back to the dining-room, however, differ a bit among the generations.

And how they choose where to eat comes from different sources.

As does what they’re looking for from restaurants.

Menu innovation is important, but preferences differ.

But priorities are pretty uniform across all surveyed.

Off-Premise and the Digital Experience are Here to Stay

The demand for in-person dining doesn’t mark the end of takeout, delivery, and new service models. If anything, the restrictions have bonded these types of engagements into the fabric of food & beverage service. When asked, “What innovations in the restaurant industry do you expect will outlast the COVID-19 restrictions?” the capabilities of off-premise dining and the digital guest experience prove sticky, particularly among Millennials.

While the prevalence of third-party delivery services is likely to continue, several issues are top of mind for consumers.

Even so, particularly among younger guests, 3PD will continue to be a force in the industry.

There are ways restaurants can encourage guests to order directly. Although in some cases, that would require implementing a delivery rails solution or first-party delivery. Loyalty programs are a vital capability here.

Given that it seems the way forward will be a return to traditional dining rooms in conjunction with the off-premise dining solutions that guests have pivoted to, communication will be more critical than in the past. Across the board, guests want to hear from you.

And they don’t mind promotional offers.

Remember, while everyone is interested in what you have to say, how you say it differs based on who your guests are.

Planning marketing, loyalty, and engagement strategies will help you notify guests as regional restrictions lift, promotions and happy hours come back in vogue, and consumers look forward to new and exciting experiences with their favorite restaurants.

In conclusion, it looks like there is a looming renaissance for the hospitality industry, driven by our guests. Operators who are able to identify how they can meet the preferences of their guests, communicate with them clearly, and serve them in the manner they desire will lead the way into a new era of food & beverage profitability.

Sources: Report 47, Life After the Vaccine – Datassential; ONETABLE Consumer Report – Datassential; Report 46, Trending Upward – Datassential; 2021 State of the Industry Report – National Restaurant Association;