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2 6 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 5 Consultant's Take I t was 1990. I was just barely 18, and my frst real job was deliver- ing pizzas for Rocky's Pizza Ring. This local mom-and-pop joint could have been a hot spot "back in the day." Judging by the never-been-updated boxing theme décor, that day was some time in 1972. It had a certain vintage charm about it — and more importantly, really good pizza. You could see Rocky's was past its prime but it was still bus- tling. I delivered a lot of that great pizza to a lot of customers who were also, well, past their prime. At the time, I had no clue that I would make a career out of helping brands like Rocky's fnd new life. I do remember having a keen sense of Rocky's untapped potential. Faded lacquered newspaper clippings of Muhammad Ali could be so much better. Boxing ring ropes draped clumsily around the dining room could be more stylized and deliberate. The defated speed bag mounted to the wall could have added personality. All these good-hearted attempts at creating an experience around an idea worked for a time. That was a time with fewer options, less demanding customers and when an eye-catching ad in the phone book was enough to make the phone ring. Fast forward to today. I've spent the better part of a 20-year career helping brands such as Burger King, Au Bon Pain and Donatos Pizza create better restaurant experiences for their guests. As I think back to Rocky's and consider other brands that have failed to keep up, I can't help but consider how they might reclaim their relevance. In the past decade a food of fast-casual concepts has raised the tide of the restaurant industry and raised the bar on customer experience. So, what is it about fast casual that connects so well with cus- tomers today, and even more specifcally, those highly sought-after Millennials? We recently collaborated with Oracle on an extensive study of Millennials to better understand how to make meaningful connections with this often misunderstood group. The core challenge is the diversity within the generation — ranging from fnancially dependent teens to married homeown- ers with children. To address this, we grouped Millennials into fve distinct customer segments based on the clustering of their various attitudes and behaviors, with each of the segments representing a cluster or "tribe" of people that behave similarly. In order to target these segments effectively, we identifed fve themes that brands need to consider in order to win with Millennials: create an experience, make it frictionless, offer customization, build loyalty and demonstrate value. These fve strategies for success with Millennials also describe the qualities that make for a good restaurant experience. Many thriving fast-casual concepts already employ several, if not TOM KOWALSKI Senior Director, Restaurant Experience Interbrand Design Forum Tom.Kowalski@interbrand.com Millennials and the Fast-Casual Experience These fve strategies for success with Millennials also describe the qualities that make for a good restaurant experience.