Marketing for the Restaurant industry: Well, the industry as a whole is flourishing but what does that mean for individual restaurants. With the number of options available today, how difficult is it to survive The Hunger Games? How loyal are customers to their favorites? What does it take to ensure continuing loyalty?
‘Trust’ is the most important aspect to consumers in the Restaurant industry and often underestimated because of how casual the trust has become. In fact, I think after the health industry, the restaurant industry is a runner up where it comes to ‘Trust’ being a key factor in its success. I think this ‘Trust’ can be broken down into various categories.
Trust That They Will Take Care of Your Health
When we eat something prepared by someone, we place our lives in their hands. This trust is often underestimated because of how often we eat out and also because of the health standards maintained in most countries. However, the minute this trust is broken consumers don’t look back. It happened with me last year where I fell sick after eating at my favorite Chinese restaurant. No second chance was given and I was on to my next favorite because there are innumerable Chinese restaurants in Chicago!
Trust That They Will Meet the Expectations of Your Taste Buds
What a bummer it is when the Spaghetti Aglio Olio you ordered is dry and flaky, when the coffee is just not right or when your favorite dumplings don’t taste like they usually do. You eat it, you pay and you leave but the impression is long lasting. Of course, a way to a customer’s heart is through his stomach. Lack of satisfaction results in lack of customers and sometimes trickles down to the customer’s network at well.
Trust That They Will Continue to Surprise You
When you’re loyal to a restaurant you visit it often. It’s on top of mind for that particular cuisine or a particular type of occasion. But why would you want to go to the same place repeatedly if it does not have something different to offer every time. Customers want to be surprised. Maybe not by new menus or by fancy discounts. That would be nice, but sometimes something small that companies can afford. Starbucks offers new combinations of coffee or cookies as testers. It is surprising, immersive and memorable. I remember going back and asking whether they are actually launching the Truffle Macchiato I sampled. Sometimes it can be as little as suggesting a surprising combination that they have never tried – Their usual pizza with a zingy topping or with a freshly baked gourmet garlic toast?
Trust That They Will Provide an Experience
Nobody wants to feel like they’re eating home food. Yes, people want comfort food, happy food, healthy food but definitely food that they can’t prepare themselves at home. Restaurants must focus on providing that unique experience that they cannot recreate at home. Either through presentation, service or entertainment. Molecular Gastronomy is doing insanely well because it’s such an experience to immerse yourself into. It looks delightful, focuses on taste but is also made using methods that we can rarely try at home.
Trust That They Will Build a Relationship
Relationships are key in any business. The restaurant business is so intimate which makes relationships all the more important. Cooking a meal and feeding someone is so personal and has such a great opportunity to build a relationship. This in turn has an added value to combat competition. Sometimes a restaurant will come along that has fantastic food, great ambience and thoughtful pricing. Imagine, how easy it’ll be to switch from a regular restaurant to that new restaurant that offers the best! This is when the relationship comes in. Knowing your favorite waiter who knows just how you like your Risotto- lightly garnished with garlic olive oil. Or being invited to tasting sessions of new menus – it makes you feel like you are a part of their success, like you’re valued and you’re important. This is what makes a difference. You may go try that new restaurant around the corner but you’ll always come back to your regular one because it’s where you belong!