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How Companies Can Keep Up With Modern Business Trends – Did Millennials Ruin Food Trucks?

Food Trucks and Other Failures: How Companies Can Adapt to Modern Business Trends?

During these past few years, the trend of blaming millennials for the decline of interest in several industries, services, products, and other activities is rising. Now, another victim is about to join this supposed generational onslaught: food trucks.

Before, the food trucks revered as a more efficient and convenient food service for people that didn’t have the time or money to eat out constantly. But today, they are facing drawbacks from younger generations.

From businesses, marketers, and older social commentators unironically arguing that millennials have “killed” concepts such as eating out, napkins, and canned tuna, to defiant and snarky millennials embracing their reputation as serial killers as a joke, it’s not only a running gag, but also a reflection of a larger societal split between the older and younger generations.

However, some of these businesses are trying out new methods and keeping up with modern business trends to evolve for the millennial generation and beyond.

The Rise of Food Trucks

Food trucks initially became notorious as a novelty that helped workers on break and passing civilians get a quick meal for a few dollars before continuing their busy lives.

Their mobile status also allowed them to move to multiple locations throughout a city or town, spreading their appeal and reputation throughout the community.

Street vendors always enjoyed this novelty, but in the last ten years, their popularity hit a new high. New opportunities and factors opened for this industry that led to a greater public interest and business expansions, from a fleet of vehicles to brick-and-mortar counterparts.

The food truck industry benefitted from a few advantages during the last decade.

  • More affordable for entrepreneurs. Opening a traditional restaurant is an expensive venture for start-ups and novice entrepreneurs. The costs of starting a restaurant are large, ranging between one and two million. Not surprisingly, these investors and aspiring businesspeople were opting for a more cost-effective option, particularly for their first business.
  • Media presence. Food establishments continue to rely on media exposure to boost their popularity and novelty factor, which extended to food trucks. From local news establishments highlighting local food truck businesses to more mainstream coverage by the Food Network, food trucks and the gourmet experiences they featured brought increased popularity.
  • Varied experiences. Food trucks, particularly in this period, provided customers with unique food experiences they could only experience in an upscale restaurant or in another country. The approach of the food truck allowed owners and chefs to bring exotic meals and get creative with what they served.

Current Struggles

While food trucks enjoyed a recent rise in expansion and popularity, they are also facing a few struggles that threaten to undo all their success and momentum.

As waning interest from younger generations plays a factor in this decline, the topic is also more complicated than simply millennials killing another food service.


There are multiple factors that are threatening the boom of the food truck industry.

  • Millennial economy. The younger millennial generation, ranging between 19 and 34 years old, is suffering the worst from the economic crises of the last decade. They have less money than their parents did at the same age. Due to this fact, they must spend less on food, cars, houses, and other expenses. It’s more complex than just millennials killing businesses by choice; they can’t afford to help businesses thrive.
  • Oversaturation. The food truck boom created greater interest and more business opportunities for these businesses. However, it also led to the death of the novelty that made it so appealing in the first place. Some successful trucks have opened traditional establishments, which defeats the purpose of food trucks, while others face diminishing sales from restless competition.
  • Government restrictions. One more obstacle that food truck operations face these days is growing conflicts with their local governments. The growing competition that includes not just trucks, but also local restaurants, has the municipal authorities favouring the latter and passing laws and restrictions that limit how food trucks operate. In addition, new construction approvals have forced some vendors to constantly change location or close.

Online Presence Is Crucial for Food Trucks in 2019

These setbacks seem to paint a bleak picture for food truck owners and their businesses.

Between restrictions from the competition, economic issues, and a lack of customers, it’s tempting to throw in the towel and join the list of businesses that are losing ground to today’s trends and changing tastes.

However, some vendors don’t see it that way. In fact, they believe that because millennials are a pickier, less risk-averse generation, it simply means that the industry should meet those standards and provide a new experience that will convince them to spend time and money.

The greatest change that food trucks can make in order to appeal to millennial tastes is to boost their online presence.

Word of mouth on social media

Millennials value knowing about what they are going to buy and where they are going to eat before they go. They find new places to frequent based on social media and web presence – word of mouth passes through these channels at greater rates than in the past. Food trucks can reap amazing benefits through strong social media marketing.

Outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram provide great opportunities for food truck operators to inform customers about their menu, locations, and their schedules for that week. Engaging with online users through these sites, as well as review services like Yelp and Google, can also increase reputation and relativity.

Food trucks with online presences have higher rankings in search engines, allowing them to build a strong clientele and bring in business. Without an online presence, millennials will hesitate to visit a food truck and will opt for one with better Yelp reviews and social media channels instead.

With the right web and social media strategy on their side, food trucks can escape the fall in sales that their not-as-tech-savvy counterparts are suffering from. To build their businesses in 2019, food trucks should invest in strong social media strategies, professional websites, and Yelp pages.

Also, watch this video to learn 7 digital marketing tips you can use to grow your business online:

How Else Can Food Trucks Adapt to the Future?

In addition to boosting their online presence, food truck proprietors are embracing new trends and practices to appeal to the newer clientele and adapt to a changing world.

  • Healthier food options. While food trucks found success in serving comfort food such as fries, burgers, and hot dogs, younger customers are more interested in healthier food choices that respect their well-being, made from fresh ingredients. Vegetable substitutes, healthy breakfasts, and kids’ meals, sustainable meats, and organic or non-GMO ingredients appeal to a growing number of millennials.
  • Unique foods and beverages. Food trucks already bring new experiences from other countries and cultures. New consumers continue to value this feature but may also demand more authentic and genuine choices, from homemade additions to new flavors and spices. Food trucks will also cater to more unique, creative beverage tastes with gourmet lemonade, specialty teas, and coffee, as well as mocktails and flavored water.
  • Customizable food. Millennials generally embrace the option to have control over every aspect of their products, and this includes foods. Owners are expanding their ingredient options to allow customers to build their own food. They are also encouraging fresher, higher-quality ingredients for pickier clients.
  • Mobile ordering. Certain food trucks are embracing the use of dedicated smartphone apps and tools to let customers order ahead of time. This practice adds convenience, as businesses prevent losses to long lines and crowds. Also, many owners facilitate these apps by installing wi-fi hotspots in their vehicles.
  • Unique locations. Some businesses don’t limit their creativity to their menu options alone, but their locations and presentation as well. The Container Bar in Charleston, South Carolina uses a shipping container as a bar, and has space for multiple, rotating food trucks to provide greater variety and a reliable customer base.

Surviving Death by Millennials

Food trucks may seem like they are another service that the newer generation can phase out, such as hotels or golf country clubs. But they also have an advantage over these other businesses: Food trucks already provide convenience, accessibility, and cost-efficiency to customers.

By understanding the current trends and adapting to future generations, the food truck sector has the potential to continue to thrive and succeed for years to come.

Just like any other business in the food industry, street vendors and food trucks need to have a strong handle on their online marketing to increase accessibility and presence among customers.

At SPINX, we can help accomplish that. Contact SPINX to learn more about our digital marketing services.

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