In order to attract customers and increase restaurant growth, operators must start by understanding their patrons' needs. Many of today's consumers want healthier, sustainable menu options and the opportunity to use social media and technology to better their experience. While good food, attentive service, value and convenience will always attract consumers, you should focus on investing in current trends to meet consumer demand.
Healthy Menu Items
Healthy menu options can be a huge factor in driving restaurant traffic. Restaurant patrons are increasingly driven to natural, organic and sustainable offerings--all of which are strongly tied to their contemporary definitions of health. According to Technomic, 58% of consumers agree that it is important to eat healthy and pay attention to nutrition.
"Gluten-free" and "organic" were cited as the two of the top health claims at the top 500 foodservice chains. Patrons who seek out healthy food care about what they put in their body and are therefore willing to pay a premium for the potential health benefits.
Once considered "nice to have," sustainability and social responsibility are now expected within the foodservice industry. Restaurant patrons are most concerned with sustainability issues like ensuring product and ingredient safety (86%), recycling and reuse (78%) and energy efficiency (76%). According to Technomic, 63% of consumers said they are more likely to visit a foodservice establishment they view as socially conscious. And studies show that Gen Zers and Millennials often use social responsibility and sustainability as the driving factors behind their dining choices.
In order to be successful, you must be ready to adapt to generational and technological changes that are shaping the way consumers engage with restaurant brands--from social media to digital marketing. With more than 74% of online adults engaging in social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it is crucial to have a presence on these platforms. Social media offers you the opportunity to get the word out about your operation while also helping build your brand and communicate changes. Elevate your social media presence by sharing engaging content that invites interaction. Content can include anything that ties back to the restaurant while being of interest to the consumer, such as noteworthy info about the menu, restaurant or the chef. It's also important to discuss subjects of increasing importance, such as ingredient sourcing and social responsibility.
Get a leg up on your competition by leveraging current and upcoming trends to drive traffic. Remember that patron engagement is key to building a loyal fan base. Whether it's sharing your ingredient sourcing at the restaurant, your sustainability efforts on your social media channels, or offering incentive programs with the latest technology, engaging with patrons can help drive traffic and boost your bottom line.
Content courtesy of Perdue Foodservice
Technomic Inc., "Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report," 2015
Forbes, "Consumers Want Healthy Foods - And Willing to Pay More for them," 2/18/16
Green Retailer Decisions, "Sustainability Gains Importance in the Foodservice Industry," 2/6/14
Packaged Facts, "Foodservice Marketing Trends in the US: Technology, Mobile and Social Media," 6/2015
PewResearch Center, "Social Networking Fact Sheet," 1/2014
Restaurant Hospitality, "How Restaurant Social Media will Evolve in 2014," 1/16/14