Restaurant Marketing

Here’s Why the Recent GMO News is Big for Restaurants

Millennials and Restaurants

Tap, tap, tap. Hey there. You ready to get the straight scoop when it comes to Millennials?

Here’s why the recent GMO news and other announcements from is a big deal: We’ve got money, and we like to spend it!

And by “we” I mean we Millennials, also known as Generation Y or the Now Generation. We twentysomethings are working hard to play hard — not unlike our neighboring generations when they were our age — except that we are very particular about where we choose to play and why.

As expected, we gravitate toward trendy, happening places with good food and even better drinks, but that’s not all we’re looking for.

We Millennials base our restaurant decisions on more than exterior appeal, and even more than taste. We want to know about what we’re consuming, more specifically, we want to know about the ingredients — where they are purchased, how they are grown or raised, in what way they are stored and prepared, and what happens to the containers they are transported in.

Read:  Restaurants: What You Need to Know about Millennials -- from a Millennial


We want to feel good about what we eat and more importantly, where we spend our money. That’s why we look for restaurants that practice social responsibility and ingredient transparency.

Food That’s Socially Responsible

Millennials expect companies to pull at their heart-strings by taking a socially responsible stance on things like ingredient selection. We want to know that our bodies are benefitting from the healthy ingredients you are using, but we also want to know that by supporting your business we are supporting the animals, the farmers, and the environment as they are connected to your ingredients.

A 2013 Cone Communications Social Impact Study found that Millennials respond to companies that support social and environmental issues with a 91% increase in trust, 89% increase in loyalty, and an 89% increase in the likelihood to spend with those companies.

Let’s take a look at how one large restaurant corporation is fully-leveraging this marketing technique:

Case-in-Point: Chipotle’s Non-GMO Stance

Chipotle was the first national restaurant company to openly provide information about which of their ingredients contained Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Now Chipotle has taken it a step further and announced that they are holding a new, firm stance on sourcing and offering only non-GMO ingredients.

To introduce their new promise to use non-GMO ingredients, Chipotle released a short animation called, The Scarecrow. Watch this video and you will see what I mean by “pull on your heart-strings.” Chipotle definitely knows how to grab their audience and evoke the desired emotional and logical response.

Now, whether Chipotle honorably backs this non-GMO claim is another story, but the point is that they stand for something and they know how to use that to market to the Millennial niche.

Chipotle has Made Sure That their Customers Know their Stance

Aside from this recent change, Chipotle has always made it known that they are striving to source the best ingredients. They stand to source:

  • Locally-grown products (within 350 miles of the restaurant its served in)
  • Humanely-raised meats (no added hormones and raised in good conditions)
  • Organically grown ingredients
  • Pasture-raised dairy

Chipotle makes it very clear to their customers that they are getting the best of the best ingredients which have been carefully selected with the world in mind. Think about it…

The fact that Chipotle uses locally-sourced, southern California avocados for their guacamole has become common knowledge — and it doesn’t hurt that one of those local providers happens to be singer-songwriter, Jason Mraz.

And in just the last few days, two other major restaurant chains have jumped on board with this mindset.

RestaurantNews reports that by the end of 2015, “Taco Bell plans to remove all artificial flavors and colors, replacing them with natural alternatives in their food. They will also remove other additives like added trans fat, and will replace unsustainable palm oil with sustainable, RSPO-certified palm. And by the end of 2017, Taco Bell will look to remove additional artificial preservatives and additives where possible.”

And how about Pizza Hut? Yes, Pizza Hut: Big changes with one of the biggest, longest-standing pizza chains, “…beginning with the removal of artificial flavors and colors from its nationally available pizzas by no later than the end of July…”

Make Your Socially-Responsible Stance Known to Millennials

Now it’s time to apply this to your restaurant. If you are interested in tapping into the Millennial niche, then you should consider taking steps to ensure social responsibility when it comes to selecting your ingredients. And don’t forget to let us know that you’ve done so…

Here are some eye-catching words that will stand out to Millennials when we look at your restaurant menu:

  • Unprocessed
  • Local
  • Fresh
  • Grass-fed
  • Artisan
  • Organic

However, keep in mind that it is always best to apply these suggestions the honest way — meaning you actually use locally-sourced products when you have stated that on your menu. Some of us may see these words and order blindly, but don’t underestimate our fact-finding power that stems from a combination of determined curiosity and an untreatable smartphone addiction.

Take a look at this news clip from 2014:

Amy's Kitchen Rohnert Park

Clicking on that image will take you to an article announcing the future arrival of Amy’s Kitchen to Rohnert Park, California, a full year ahead of time. The excitement over a new restaurant offering natural, organic food prepared well can’t be ignored. Here’s the latest on that restaurant.

The next generation of restaurants will stand for something. So, identify your values, incorporate those values into the decisions for your restaurant, and make sure Millennials are aware of your honorable stance and how you’ve incorporated it into your business.

About the author

Maria Watkins

Maria Watkins is an enthusiastic copywriter for Main Path Marketing and a contributing writer for LOCALE Lifestyle Magazine, specializing in writing engaging, high-quality creative content.