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Talking Millennial Myths at the NRA Show


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Jason Dorsey, co-founder of millennial and Gen Z research firm The Center for Generational Kinetics, speaking May 21 at the NRA Show.

“Much of what you’ve heard about millennials is absolutely wrong,” said Jason Dorsey, a statement that caused many in the crowd, largely made up of restaurant owners, to sit up in their seats.

Speaking today during the National Restaurant Association Show, Dorsey, co-founder of millennial and Gen Z research firm The Center for Generational Kinetics, proceeded to detail the many myths that have caused those charged with marketing restaurants to this key demographic to misjudge their audience.

If we’re to believe the prevailing narrative, we millennials (yes, I’m one of them) are mostly a generation of rather lazy, self-involved, over-parented people struggling to integrate ourselves into adulthood and spending most of our time staring at our smartphones. We want information handed to us in neat little boxes—and more pictures, please—and hey, if you want to reward us for our behavior, even better.

“Everyone thinks our generation is broken,” continued Dorsey, but the problem for the restaurant industry is that it relies heavily on data that tracks behavior that’s already happened— the types of purchases, when they were made, for how much—but very little on why that behavior occurs.

The restaurant industry, said Dorsey, “suffers from a tremendous lack of data on why (millennials) make decisions.” His research challenges several industry assumptions, one being that millennials are tech savvy.

“… What we discovered is we are tech dependent … my generation does not know how technology actually works,” said Dorsey. “We just know we cannot live without it. It’s all about how simple can you make it so it just works.”

Some other useful nuggets from Dorsey:

• The marketing tagline that works best? “Something as unique as you are.”

“As millennials, they want to hear, 'how am I going to have a unique experience.'”

• Loyalty must be earned. “The No. 1 thing that irks me is when people say millennials aren’t loyal. Here’s the truth: Millennials are the most loyal generation of customers— once we establish our loyalty.” Expectations are high, said Dorsey, and millennials establish their loyalty later in life and are going to sample brands longer before committing.

The NRA Show runs through Tuesday, May 23, in Chicago.

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Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is associate editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
 
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Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
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Nancy WeingartnerNancy Weingartner is editor-at-large of Franchise Times magazine and the editor of the Food On Demand media project. You can reach her at 612-767-3200 or at nancyw@franchisetimes.com.
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