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A Guide to Marketing Your Restaurant to Baby Boomers

Posted by Donald Burns on 10/12/17 5:00 PM in Restaurant Marketing

4 minute read Print

baby boomers

Everyone talks about marketing to millennials, but no one really talks about marketing their restaurant to baby boomers anymore.

Why not? There are over 70 million baby boomers in America right now, and they love to go out to eat!

They are inclined to have more disposable income than younger generations and are brand loyal to restaurants they trust. 

So, who exactly are baby boomers, and how can you get them in your restaurant?

Who Are The Baby Boomers?

Raised in a post-WWII world, baby boomers were born between 1946-1964. Today, they are between 53 and 71 years old. 

Baby Boomers prefer substance over flash. They don’t jump when you pressure them to buy now, so that "limited time offer" doesn't really appeal to them.

To market your restaurant effectively to baby boomers, you need to speak in a language they will understand.

Here are three tips to help. Seeing as I'm just one year off being a Baby Boomer, this is from personal experience.

1) Don’t Say They Are Old 

If you're in your twenties, you might think that people over 50 are “old.”

That is the fastest way to turn off this demographic.

Baby Boomers see life after 50 as some of the best years of their life. They tend to focus more on living a healthy lifestyle and enjoying their free time.

baby boomers in restaurants

How to Use This in Restaurant Marketing

Promote what matters to them at this point in their lives. Healthy menu options and cooking classes are perfect for baby boomers.

At a recent cooking class at an upscale restaurant I attended (that was charging $100 per person), the class was sold out and 80% of the people who attended were over 50.

Not a bad way to fill up a slow evening at a restaurant.

2) Play the Nostalgia Card

There's nothing like a good emotional trigger or blast from the past to connect your brand with images or symbols from someone's youth. The 70s and 80s were good times for the baby boomers.

Remind them of that.

How to Use This in Restaurant Marketing

Do you have vintage menus from that era you could recreate? Perhaps try theme nights in your bar like Saturday Night Fever on a Monday, or try a play on brunch with a Commodores-themed "Easy Like Sunday Morning" Mimosas.

How about creating posters that play off of vintage movies from those days? 

restuarants and baby boomers

Remember that effective marketing is really at its essence all about triggering emotions. Tap into that and now you understand the world from their point of view and that will in turn build rapport. Rapport builds trust and trust builds loyalty.

3) Market to What Matters to Them

With any restaurant marketing plan you want to talk about what is important to the guest. Many get this backwards when creating marketing content: they talk about what they feel is important. If you want to increase your marketing effectiveness, market to what matters to these baby boomers. 

What do baby boomers care about? There a few things that will get them to give your restaurant marketing a second look.

The Grandkids

These people light up in pride when they see (and are asked about) their grandkids. Offering events that allow them to share time with their grandkids and some of your food is a great way to bring them in.

How about an afternoon Alice in Wonderland Tea Party for them and their granddaughter? Maybe an afternoon Circus Theme where the staff dresses up like lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!)?

Healthy Living

Passing the age of 50 is for many a wake-up call to start living a healthier lifestyle. Trends like the Keto Diet are gaining popularity among baby boomers in restaurants. The key is to not throw out the words “Diet” or “Low Carb.”

No one wants a reminder that they are on a diet. 

baby boomer dining habits

Instead, use phrases like, “heart-healthy” or “Keto-friendly" on your menu. Play up the quality of your ingredients that this demographic desires. Phrases like GMO-free (better than saying non-GMO) and whole grains (yes, digestive health is important to baby boomers) work. 

New Takes on Old Dishes

While Boomers want flavor, they are not necessarily adventurous. They like their classics served with a little twist.

Kobe beef burgers with harissa ketchup, surf and turf with roasted cashew butter, adult mac & cheese, and any tweak to a classic Bloody Mary (like with bacon… how can you go wrong with bacon?) are always hits. 

Breakfast

Baby boomers love to eat breakfast. According to Technomic, this generation spends more of their restaurant dollars on breakfast than any other demographic.

baby boomer food preference

If you can introduce new flavors that have a twist of familiarity to them, you can bring them in with items like:

  • Steak and eggs with lobster hollandaise.
  • Oatmeal crème brûlée.
  • Crawfish etouffee omelette.
  • Smoked salmon scrambled egg breakfast pizza.

These are all creative ways to lure baby boomers to your door.

Manners Maketh Meal

Once you get them in the door, make sure your staff is trained properly, as boomers want polite and friendly servers.

Baby boomers are a little more traditional when it comes to manners, so little things like being polite, smiling, opening the door, handing the napkins, and saying “please” and “thank you” are very much appreciated by this generation. Respect goes a long way to making Baby Boomers loyal to your restaurant.

For more restaurant marketing tips, download our guide below!

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Written by: Donald Burns

Donald Burns, The Restaurant Coach™ is the leading authority, author and international coach on how restaurant owners, operators and culinary professionals go from just good to becoming exceptional. He helps independent operators create organizations that thrive and bring out their workers' natural strengths to reach their peak potential. A sought-after advisor in the areas of menu design & engineering, restaurant operations, rebranding, social media marketing, culinary consulting, team development, behavioral dynamics, productivity & peak performance.


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