Let’s face it, attracting and maintaining a loyal customer base is one of the most important and the most difficult tasks bars or restaurants must face. It’s what determines whether you sink or swim in the choppy waters of the hospitality industry. Whether you’re the pride of the downtown scene, the local dive, or the new kid in town, chances are you’re always hoping to see new customers entering your place when you happen to divert your gaze to the door.
Thanks to pop culture and, well... history, the minds of most would associate such people with one unifying quality, youth. But, what do you do in a world where young people (deep breath) don’t go out? I know, it’s a terrifying thought. And even scarier, it’s now our reality. Last year, market researchers Mintel published a study detailing the growing trend of drinking at home. At the moment, millennials shockingly take the top honours when it comes to at-home alcohol consumption. So, what can you do when those who should be your best customers are spending their nights in? How can you get young people off their couches and onto your barstools?
1) A New and Improved Menu
If fidget spinners, man buns and high-waisted jeans have proven anything is that young people love their trends. Thanks to the rise of craft brewing and mixology, young drinkers largely now crave new and exciting drinks like never before. There’s small additions every bar can make to keep up with the industry, and the adding some fresh new items to your menu is a great way to offer adventurous patrons the variety they crave.
If you’ve been in a downtown restaurant or bar recently, you’re probably aware that craft beer is everywhere right now. A decade-long trend which supports grass-roots values and local business, craft beers are a great way to spice up you’re drink selection and attract a newer clientele. Locally brewed craft beer is a great way to drum up business while mutually supporting local commerce. Certain spirits are also growing in popularity amongst the younger drinkers today as well. Mezcal, cousin of Tequila, is one spirit that has blown up over the past couple of years. For more spirited suggestions, be sure to check out last week's blog here!
2) Drink Deals and Specials Nights
It’ll probably come as no surprise that one of the biggest influences suppressing the number of millennials in bars today is the price of going out. After all, it’s 2019, the sky is blue and young people are poor.
Many would prefer to buy their own booze instead of going in on the mark-up of individual drinks. Young people are notoriously low on funds, so offering competitive drink deals speaks to them. This can be done in a strategic way to base on which clientele you wish to attract. If drink specials aren’t your thing, specialty nights are a great way to attract attention. Tap takeovers or a themed drink night are easy ways to spice things up and gauge what younger folks are responding to. With either of these options, test them out and see what people respond to.
3) Community Involvement
Getting involved with your local scene is an awesome way to get young eyes on your location. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Partnering with another local business, sponsoring or making your presence known at community events or hosting regular get-togethers are all awesome ways of showing pride in your community.
Generally speaking, drinkers of a younger demographic are conscious consumers; more eager to offer their business to those who display their support of shared values. Getting involved with your community offers great exposure while highlighting your pride in your town.
4) Social Media and Influencers
Hot take: social media is really good for marketing small businesses. But just having a Facebook page for your bar isn’t enough anymore. Today, maintaining well-managed social media platforms (yes, plural) is one of the most important things a business can do because of its incredible promotional ability.
First and foremost, a great social media page offers your audience and new customers their first look at your bar, which forms their first impressions. Speaking from experience, I know that deciding on a place to go on a night out often requires a deal of deliberation. Considering the fact that many young people know going out is also a costly business, it makes sense to say that they’d be more inclined to visit a place it they know what to expect.
So, millennials are obviously on a budget and maybe you are too. Social media offers an awesome way to easily communicate with your audience for free. New drink deals? Events to promote? Posting news like this to your social media is a great way to spread the word amongst your patrons. But it isn’t enough to blast a message out there and hope it reaches the right eyes. It’s also critical to put effort into making your page a place where people want to look.
5) User Generated Content
Speaking of social media, chances are if you happen upon young patrons, you’ll see phones in their hands and Instagram pictures or Snapchat stories somewhere the next day. This customer content is an awesome way to gauge the response of your clientele.
A fun atmosphere and good-looking drinks are eye-candy for social media followers of all types, so it’d be worth the effort to make a bar “Instagram-able”. Reposting your customers photos (with credit) is also a great way to engage with your clientele. Plus, if they’re posting pictures of your drinks, you’ve already made the sale, so why not run with that ball? It’s a small effort that can make a huge difference.