What millennials want from restaurants

What millennials want from restaurants

By Marc Castrechini, vice president of product management, Cayan

Check Instagram or Facebook, and you'll quickly learn one essential fact about millennials: they really like food. But for restaurants that are competing to stand out in the rapidly transforming food industry, they need deeper insight into the preferences of millennials and the other demographics dining out today.

That's why Cayan conducted a survey of 1,010 consumers nationwide between the ages of 18 and 65. And our results have important implications for how restaurants should use payments to complement their dining experience and keep patrons satisfied.

Everyone's going out for dinner

There is one famous stat that nearly every restaurant owner has in the back of their mind: An estimated 80 percent of restaurants fail within the first five years of opening, according to an Ohio State study. That's why concrete data on the preferences of diners is so important—it helps restaurants to create the best possible strategy for the future and ensure they live to serve another plate.

The first thing that our survey found is that the frequency of dining out in 2018, is extremely high among all demographics. Eating out used to be more rare, often reserved for a special occasion; now, it's become a regular activity and  not just for millennials.

About 75 percent  of respondents to our poll eat out at least once a week and almost half (47 percent ) eat out at least three times a week. But today's diners have more choices, whether it's quick serve, fast-casual, sit-down, takeout, food trucks, or any number of other options. The competition is more intense than ever. 

The stats are clear: payments make a difference

Because of this competition, every aspect of the dining process is being held up to greater scrutiny. Now, customer experience has become nearly as important as the food itself. And as people have begun to go out for food more often, they have developed strong preferences in areas like payments.

More than half of respondents (58 percent) consider a restaurant's payment technology important. Almost a third of respondents (32 percent) said that they would reconsider where they dine based on the payment technology that the restaurant uses (or doesn't use)
Almost a third of respondents (32 percent) said that a payment incident has ruined a dining experience for them before

Speed and security matter most

The stats show that customers care a great deal about payments. So, what matters most to them in the payments experience?

Nearly two-thirds (61 percent ) said that they are most concerned with secure payments and processing. With all the breaches in the news recently, especially at some notable restaurant chains, this is not a surprising result. Customers want the peace of mind that comes with secure data and  a data breach can have huge financial consequences for a brand—just look at the stock of some of the chains that have suffered breaches recently.

For about a third of respondents (32 percent ), the speed of the transaction is what's most important to them in restaurant payments. It's especially true as some diners have now seen new—but still rare—technology like pay at the table that drastically speeds up transaction and checkout speed. At sit-down restaurants, for instance, the traditional payment process in America has several steps as waiters go back and forth between the table and the register. In Europe, the process is far faster with pay at the table. The technology has not yet become widespread here in America, but it's becoming clear that more and more diners want it.

Millennials want pay-at-the-table — and so does everyone else

Millennials are not only the largest demographic in the United States, they also make up the largest population of diners. And that's why they're so crucial to restaurants. As a highly tech-savvy generation, millennials, more than any other demographic, would like pay at the table to be available 

Almost 72 percent of millennials would prefer to pay this way if it was available.

Millennials also place a higher value on speed than other demographics—47 percent of millennials said speed of transaction is the most important aspect of restaurant payments, while only 29 percent  of Gen X/Y said this and  20 percent  of boomers.

But pay at the table is something that nearly every demographic is interested in. About 69 percent of Generation X and Y would prefer to pay through pay-at-the-table, and 66 percent  of boomers would prefer it.

While only 6 percent said it's the most important aspect of payments, that may be because it remains rare in the United States. As adoption grows, it will likely be viewed as "table stakes."

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Mobile Payments

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