The spendy millennial diner wants more from their food and beverages. Not only do they desire delicious, healthy foods, they also crave a unique dining experience. Eating has evolved into an activity— one that is meant to be fully enjoyed and shared with friends and family. These millennial habits have given rise to new trends in food service that the industry can use to gain an all-new customer base while offering your established consumers something new and exciting.
Quality Over Quantity
Traditionally, most casual dining restaurants have served their meals in significantly large portions— much larger than the average person will eat in a single sitting. However, as millennial preferences begin to take root, food trends are moving away from quantity, toward smaller portions that focus on providing quality.
Consumers are demanding dishes that focus less on the amount of food that is being served, and more on what goes into those dishes.
The locally grown and organic food movements are increasingly popular among millennial diners, leading them to also become recognized as one of the lasting new trends in food service. But the demand for uniqueness and quality doesn’t end there. Consumers are interested in tasting the exceptional and expect to be "wowed" by their entire dining experience.
In addition to serving reduced portion sizes of meals featuring fresh, locally grown ingredients, trending eateries are also serving specialty and craft beverages.
Specialty Beverages Enhance the Dining Experience
Craft beers are rising in popularity, with many restaurants serving a variety of specialty beers to their customers who look forward to the opportunity to try several varieties within a single order. Restaurants are taking advantage of this by offering “flights” of craft beers in smaller glasses that are designed for sampling.
But the demand for craft beverages has grown beyond just beer, and many restaurants are beginning to offer other exclusive beverage options that are designed to complement a wide range of delectable dishes.
From craft sodas to non-traditional beverages that offer health benefits in addition to quenching a customer's thirst, uniquely styled drinks can not only heighten the consumer's perception of their dining experience, they can also increase the establishment's bottom line.
Take Advantage of the Craft Trend
Whether your establishment serves alcohol or not, you can easily take advantage of the craft trend by adding customized, high quality drinks to your menu.
Creating customized beverages is simple, but it does go beyond simply putting a new twist on the Shirley Temple. Plug into the desire for fresh and local and focus on offering new drinks that bring out the flavors of the season, or ones that utilize fresh, unexpected ingredients. For example, an asparagus spear and a jumbo cocktail shrimp can replace the celery stick in a Bloody Mary, putting a unique twist on a classic beverage.
Millennials and Fast Casual
While fast casual establishments have already begun to gravitate away from the "fast food" modal in favor of offering consumers a unique experience while still providing a relaxed atmosphere and fast service, the pressure is on for chefs and restaurateurs to meet the expectations of new diners.
Adding craft beverages to your menu—sodas, teas, beers and cocktails— can help further set your establishment apart from other fast casual restaurants.
Keep in mind that craft beverages are designed to complement the consumer's dining experience and shouldn't overshadow the other items on your menu. If your establishment, for example, primarily offers customers with a particular type of cuisine, you should provide new craft drinks that are designed to augment what your establishment currently provides.
By exploring craft beverages as one of the new trends in food service, you can expand both your customer base and your profits.