This month our Chinese friends are celebrating New Year and the advent of the Year of the Sheep to bring them good luck – and many caterers are maximising the occasion as a selling tool to drive traffic into their restaurants.
But theming isn’t just for a few big celebrations a year. Increasingly caterers are ‘segmenting’ the day into different eating occasions to appeal to a larger and varied customer base. According to the Horizons seasonal briefing, 2015 will be all about ‘day parts’ and theming – so if you run an American themed operation in London with a good all day trade, for example you are set for success this year!
What’s really interesting about the Horizons research is the decline in dining out. It seems we are foregoing occasional nights out for more frequent, less formal eating out. Lunch is still growing strongly – up 45%, with snacks and breakfast also growing apace at +9% each, but dinner is down a whopping 37%*
This means that operators need to be nimble on their feet, revising menus to ensure they capitalise on these trends, even adding in a ‘to-go’ element to their offering to help grow business. They also need to think hard about tempting us back in for dinner – getting creative with themes and pricing as the supermarket ‘dinner for two for £10’ offer has clearly taken its toll.
Creativity isn’t limited to what’s on menu either but also needs to focus on what’s not on the menu – anything that makes it easier for people to come in. Can you partner with a local taxi company to pick up and take home? Can you add a family room so Mum, Dad and the kids can all come out? Can you have a week-night offer early in the week?
This type of creativity is where social media as a marketing tool really comes into its own. You can use Twitter and Facebook to create traffic by offering limited deals to micro segments – two eat for £15 if it’s your birthday today, free starter if your name is Eddie, free bottle of wine tonight if you live on This Road and so on… it just takes a little thought and planning. Planning is important as all your activity needs to measurable and costed so you can see what it is adding to the bottom line.
With special occasions like Valentines and Mother’s Day coming up soon, it’s a great time to explore what social media can add to your business.