From the Editor: Chasing Change

Photo by Nick Wong

In today’s globally minded marketplace, consumers are searching for unique products and experiences while, ironically, the world is becoming smaller and more uniform. That reality bodes well for the franchising model, which enables greater access to marketing dollars, brand equity and better access to technology.

But, flagged or independent, with rising costs, running a restaurant is more challenging than ever, which means operators need to ensure they understand what their customers want in order to drive higher sales.

A recent survey of 2,000 Canadians and 200 F&B operators, entitled “Changing Tastes and Flavours,” undertaken by Eagle Eye Solutions in August 2018, shows Canadians enjoy eating out, with 71 per cent claiming to have a meal outside their homes up to 10 times a month.

But, as the findings of the survey also illustrate, what will continue to change is the relationship between today’s consumers and operators. As an example, the survey shows a “fundamental mismatch between how consumers want to engage with F&B brands and the ways those brands are currently interacting with their customers.”

For example, when it comes to loyalty-program participation and social-media engagement, Canadian consumers respond well to personalized offers and real-time promotions that drive “emotional loyalty.” This creates a great opportunity for F&B operators to capture and utilize customer data to reach and engage consumers on an ongoing basis while more closely aligning with their expectations.

Because consumers spend more time in a restaurant environment than in other typical retail environments, F&B operators have more opportunities to upsell and coax patrons into “one more” purchase. Yet, according to the survey, only a handful of F&B operators are embracing contextual marketing strategies to drive revenue growth. The study shows that only 30 per cent of operators surveyed use technology data and insights to identify their customers through promo codes, card payments or loyalty membership. But by doing so, those operators would leapfrog their competitors.

As the study shows, these days, it’s all about how F&B operators can leverage data and customer-engagement strategies to strengthen brand loyalty and drive revenue growth. As operators know only too well, change is the only constant. “What remains to be seen is the extent to which operators can capitalize on that change and become more relevant to their consumers.”

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