The millennial market can be tough to crack. Mike Hardman, from catering equipment retailer Alliance Online, shares his top tips for attracting millennial diners with Instagram-ready dishes.

The millennial appetite for restaurant dining shows no signs of diminishing. With 54% of 18–34-year-olds spending the majority of their disposable income on eating out (Experian), it’s clear that Generation Y prefer to spend money on experiences like fine dining over buying material products. And, according to KPMG, millennials now make up over 35% of the UK workforce, meaning that the Instagram generation is now a spending force to be reckoned with — and many will plan to spend their pay packets visiting their favourite restaurants.

So, how do you attract this vast, lucrative and presentation-obsessed group of diners?

We’ve put together a guide that will help you attract millennials to your restaurant, and get images of your food shared across social media sites such as Instagram.

What is the ‘Instagram Effect’, and why does it matter?

It used to be that word-of-mouth recommendations were the only way to tell your friends about a brilliant dining experience. But now, if one guest uploads a tantalising snapshot of their meal, then hundreds — or even thousands — of online followers could see it.

According to a survey by BBC Good Food, 30% of millennials admitted to taking pictures of their food in restaurants, and one in five have made a booking after seeing an appetising snapshot on social media.

Simply put, Instagram presents restaurant owners with a fantastic opportunity for free, highly effective promotion. If you can present millennials with impressively presented dishes, then not only are they more likely to become a repeat customer: they’re also more likely to share a snap of their experience on Instagram, encouraging hundreds of other users to visit your restaurant.

How to make ‘Instagrammable’ dishes

To a restauranteur, the rewards of Instagram are obvious: a loyal fanbase of customers promoting your dishes on social media. So how do you encourage millennials to get snapping and sharing their meals in your restaurant?

Presentation is key. Forbes described millennials as a generation of “visual eaters”, so the most important rule to remember when serving younger diners is that food needs to look as good as it tastes. Even if you’re serving delicious dishes that taste amazing, they will struggle to gain any traction on social media if they’re not photogenic.

So, when it comes to plating up your dishes, remember you’re creating a feast for the eyes, too. When arranging the food on the plate, think about colour and contrast. Vary the sizes and shapes: mix soft and crunchy textures, and large and small food items. If a dish is lacking in interest, add a bright vegetable or garnish as an accent colour — vividly coloured edible flowers, like violets, are a popular trend.

Don’t forget about height: not everything on your plate should be level. Try stacking thick-cut chips in a tower to add height and interest to the dish.

Keen Instagrammers will love to upload clips of themselves adding the finishing touches to their dish, so consider adding customisable or interactive elements to your dishes: try serving sauces in small jugs, or garnishes and seasoning in shakers or jars on the edge of the plate. This will also encourage customers to see dining in your restaurant as an experience, rather than just a meal, which will appeal to experience-seeking millennials.

Think outside the box to find unusual serving solutions that will create dishes your patrons will be unable to resist sharing online: try serving food on slates, or in unusual containers. Select plates and crockery with care, and choose designs that suit the atmosphere you want to create in your restaurant. You can read more about choosing crockery that really reflects your establishment’s unique selling points in this guide from Typsy.

And lastly, remember to keep up with the latest developments in the restaurant industry, so you can stay ahead of the curve with the latest presentation trends: regularly checking this blog is great place to start!

With millions of hungry millennials now reaching their full spending potential, every restaurant should be considering how they market themselves to younger customers. These tips should help you serve food that creates a sensation on social media and attracts hordes of millennial diners.