Volume 48, Number 2
Written By: Robert Carter
[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]oday’s restaurant industry is a complex business environment, and smart marketing is essential for survival. After all, customer base retention and expansion depends on effective market segmentation and targeted selling.
Competition is fierce, especially at full-service restaurants (FSR), as the quick-service restaurant (QSR) market shifts towards premiumization and the emergence of the fast-casual segment fills the gap between QSR and FSR.
FSR operators must differentiate themselves by promoting what distinguishes them from the competition. To help, NPD Canada defined FSR visit situations based on the type of occasion consumers say brings them to a restaurant — hanging out with friends, having a family meal, date/special occasions, going out for something that can’t be easily found at home, a meal crisis and girls’ or guys’ night out are among the 12 occasions identified by NPD.
So, operators should gear promotions toward visit occasions that drive more business. What follows are key drivers pertaining to top visit situations.
Hanging Out with Friends: Comfortable seating, ambiance and unique drinks offer the perfect setting for a group of friends to kick back. These occasions often include food, so drive more orders of alcoholic drinks and appetizers by
promoting a group vibe. For example, many restaurants now include a table that seats as many as 20 people.
Date/Special Occasion: To attract these visitors, keep the outing affordable by offering noteworthy dining specials. Consider prix-fixe dinners for two, or highlight the exceptional dining experience the restaurant offers by promoting personalized service and educating servers to discuss innovative menu options. To succeed in attracting more visits from these adult-only parties, the food quality and experience must be exceptional.
Family Meals with Kids: Keeping younger guests happy is key to families having an enjoyable dining experience. In fact, the number-1 reason parents choose a restaurant is because their kids like it. So, for example, emphasize the value components of meals by bundling a family meal with beverages and desserts; create a kid-friendly environment by offering table activities, such as colouring; provide fast and attentive service; and address food preferences for children of all ages.
Dinner Crisis: The need for convenient meal solutions, particularly at dinner, continues to be an opportunity for FSR operators. Today, 58 per cent of all meal occasions in the restaurant industry are off-premise. Moreover, during the past three years, delivery and take-out from FSR has increased three per cent annually. So, FSR operators should create specialized take-out and delivery menus that cater to the “dinner crisis” by offering family meals in a simple-to-order format.
Operators must capture share to spur FSR market growth. So, learn which occasions are most important to your guests and develop marketing programs to grow your business and profit.