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Goodbye Yelp, Hello TikTok: How Millenials are Choosing Their Restaurants

Over half of Millennials say they have visited a restaurant simply because the food looked good in a TikTok.

This year, video-sharing platform TikTok passed Netflix as the second most-used app among Americans under 35. Since the apps rise to prominence, many restaurant franchise brands have found ways to leverage the platform, oftentimes through collaborations with influencers and celebrities. Now, recently released data by MGH shows that TikTok is becoming an even more powerful tool when it comes to restaurant marketing, with a whopping 53% of Millennial TikTok users saying they have visited a restaurant after seeing it on the social media platform.

The survey broke it down even further, noting that the appearance of food on video was the largest driver of visits by a wide margin, with 72% of surveyed users reporting that the visual allure of food prompted them to actually visit eateries. In comparison, 45% of users reported new menu items influenced their decisions, and 42% visited a restaurant because it appeared to have a fun atmosphere.

“TikTok has completely changed the way people behave, where they spend their time, and, importantly, how they spend their money,” Ryan Goff, EVP and social media marketing director at MGH, said in a statement. “TikTok truly is a restaurant marketer’s dream come true.”

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of TikTok’s form of viral marketing is that it oftentimes isn’t even connected with any official brand efforts. Instead of users being shown annoying Subway pop-up ads, for example, they may stumble upon a delicious-looking sandwich while browsing through their feed and seeing a POV perspective video of a sandwich artist. Or maybe they’ll get the hankering for McDonald’s after seeing one of those videos about the insanity of Adult Happy Meals.

According to the MGH survey, nearly 30% of users said they would travel farther than they normally would to visit a restaurant if they saw it on TikTok. In a world of rising prices and picky customers, this ability to influence consumer behavior on a national scale can be a massive boon for restaurant brands and franchise operators across the board.