Old is gold: Eight ways to draw in the 55+ crowd to your restaurant

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By Diane Chiasson

Guess which group of spenders has the most disposable income? Although most marketing companies believe the 18 to 40 year olds are the hottest group, the truth is baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) have the most cash to spend.

Many in the 55+ group have retirement and pension plans that allow them to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. They are active and savvy – they travel, dine out, shop and most importantly, spend money.

Foodservice operations should create a marketing plan directed at these potentially big spenders. Here are eight tips to help you attract the 55+ crowd to your establishment:

1. Create a ‘55+ only’ menu

Many in the 55+ group are not frugal, but still want value for their money. Consider creating a special prix-fixe menu for this crowd only.

2. Promote your takeout service

The media likes to portray those over 55 as having all the time in the world to make their food from scratch – like the grandmother churning out loaves of fresh breads and pies. Although many in this group may be retired, they still work full- or part-time, conduct home renovation projects, take care of grandchildren or go back to school to learn new trades.

Market home-meal replacement solutions to this demographic, and consider offering them a special 10 per cent discount for takeout orders.

3. Offer heart-healthy choices

Many in the 55+ demographic exercise regularly and are conscientious of what they eat. They prefer foods rich in nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, B-complex vitamins and protein, and low in fat and sodium.

Provide more heart-healthy options targeted at boosting immunity, or dishes ideal for those with diabetes, high-blood pressure and other common diseases.

4. Create a menu with anti-aging properties

People want to look younger and those over the age of 55 are no exception. Consider creating a special menu that features ingredients well-known for anti-aging properties like sprouts, avocado, cruciferous vegetables (e.g. cabbage and kale), garlic, ginger and nuts. Be sure to market your menu properly.

5. Think carefully about your advertising

When planning your marketing material, keep in mind that loud advertisements, computer-generated graphics and hip and irreverent copy often work for younger demographics but may turn off an older crowd.

6. Offer smaller portions

Many over the age of 55 often have smaller appetites. Although some restaurants offer a specific ‘seniors’ menu,’ this demographic may prefer not to be segmented in this way. For a more subtle and sophisticated approach, consider offering half-portions at reduced rates.

7. Donate to charity

Today’s 55+ group tends to be a charitable generation that likes to help a variety of different organizations.

It may be a good idea to donate a portion of your sales from a particular item or menu – like your anti-aging menu – to causes that may appeal to those over 55 in your area. You can also help provide food for related charity events.

8. Get their opinion!

With their wealth of experience, the age 55+ demographic has seen foodservice operations evolve over several decades. Ask them what they think about your establishment. They may know the secret to improving your operation.


About the author

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 years. She provides innovative food and retail merchandising programs, interior design, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at1-888-926-6655 or chiasson@chiassonconsultants.com, or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com.

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