As many as 40 percent of businesses could die in the next 10 years if they don’t figure out how to adopt new technologies, one tech exec recently predicted. The world is changing rapidly – and that’s fueling big changes in the restaurant industry.

A decade ago, smartphones (as we know them today) didn’t exist. Three decades before that, few people owned computers. Today, groundbreaking technology is developed and released around the clock. This makes it critically important to adapt and innovate to stay relevant in the evolving foodservice landscape. As restaurateurs, you need to prepare for the future now… and that starts with understanding your consumer.

The lifestyles of your consumers  

Consumers are shaped by their environment. How they react to change, and their “digital commitment” to services like mobile ordering or self-service, often depends on one thing: their comfort level with technology. And digital change is driving the future of the restaurant industry.

Let’s take a look at each generation:

  • Boomer: This generation, defined as those born between 1946 and 1964, is using technology to stay informed and in touch. They’re avid social media users, and 17 percent of them say they order groceries online at least once a month, but they’re not deeply committed.
  • Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980): This generation is deeply committed to technology. They love simplicity and will do anything to gain back time with friends and family -- as evidenced by the fact that 65 percent will order food and beverages online.  
  • Millennials (roughly, those born between the early 1980s to mid-1990s): This generation is driven by the experience technology gives them. They want to share experiences on social media when shopping or dining, and they’ll use your kiosk and mobile tablet to pay for sure.
  • Centennial (birth dates from 1996 onward, the newest generation): This generation is more careful about what they will share on social media, so don’t count on their reviews going viral. Nonetheless, over 60 percent agree others look to them for opinions and will go to social media for it.

Engaging with your consumers

The dining preferences of your consumers are rooted in their lifestyles, so how you build connections and adapt to changing technological advances both matters and varies. It’s important to know your target audiences and make purposeful connections.  

Boomers, for example, are more brand-loyal than any other generation. They want to stick to what they know when they trust you. So when thinking about adopting new technology, focus on building social connections and keeping them in the loop.

Gen X, the lovers of simplicity, respond well to technology that makes their lives easier -- so Amazon Prime Air, a delivery system designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles is a great food delivery service to test if this is your target consumer.

Millennials, the generation that lives for social experiences and engagement, are thrilled at the idea of Domino’s AI-powered chatbot that allows you to begin an order by texting “pizza.”   

Constant iterations keep you future-proof

Understanding your consumer, their lifestyle and how they interact with technology is a faster route to preparing for the future than anything else. Technology development is rapidly growing and certainly triggering elevated expectations of the foodservice industry. The more we innovate and provide differentiated solutions unique to our target audiences, the better off we are. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, after all.

This article sponsored by Coca-Cola.