Last week, Millennials were blamed for “Killing Casual Dining” restaurants like Ruby Tuesday and TGI Fridays (for Instagram, no less). And before that, it was napkins, and the institution of marriage, and even bar soap!
But blaming Millennials for changing tastes is ridiculous.
If you think an emerging generation of consumers is killing your business, then you probably suck at business, and you had it coming.
No segment of the customer base is an enemy combatant. They’re just different target markets.
If your target market wants something you’re not offering, that’s not them “killing” you, that’s you not recognizing opportunity.
People aren’t going to TGI Fridays because TGI Fridays isn’t offering what they want. And you know what, it may never be able to offer them what they want. But that doesn’t mean the restaurant’s under siege. It’s just not adapting.
Here in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs, we have a ton chef-driven restaurants springing up that don’t cost much more than casual dining, don’t take any longer, and have much, much better food!
That’s not a Millennial murder, that’s competition.
Why eat a 1000-calorie eggroll at a flare-pinned greasy spoon when I can hit the Blue Duck Sandwich Company for a porkroll burger that Thrillist named one of the best new burgers in America?
That’s a local restaurant in a shopping center around where I live in Northeast Philly. It’s not even downtown, it’s in a random residential-area shopping center (although they just opened two individual spinoff restaurants downtown because it’s been so successful).
When I was 20, TGI Fridays and Ruby Tuesdays were great places to go. They were better than the other casual dining options.
Now there are dozens of individual, non-chain restaurants and bars and grills within a 10-mile radius of my little corner of lower Bucks County Pennsylvania that do what TGI Fridays used to do better than it ever did.
This is market Darwinism at work. These new restaurants are able to compete better because they offer customers more of what they want.
And beyond the dining experience, customers today are keenly aware that going to these restaurants means supporting someone’s dream project — often a Millennial’s dream project. Flair that.
You know, perhaps the most patronizing aspect of this whole hit job is that old businesses that can’t adapt are blaming Millennial consumers for their failure. When they really should be blaming the Millennial entrepreneurs who are eating their lunch.
So if you feel for a second like Millennials are killing your business, stop feeling sorry for yourself and start looking for the opportunity. Because it’s out there, and if you can’t find it, they will.