With burger joints eager to stay current and appeal to varying tastes, guests are seeing a full range of innovative menu items. Some of these offerings contain no meat at all, some feature new ingredients like CBD, and others are being called something other than burgers. As the summer grilling season heats up, let’s explore how three restaurant chains are improving their marketing strategy and reaching new customers by introducing a fresh take on a classic meal.
Burger King, one of the largest burger chains in America, recently announced that all of its locations will be offering the Impossible Whopper by the end of 2019. The name is inspired by the burger’s supplier, Impossible Foods, which is a leading provider of plant-based substitutes for meat. The burger looks and tastes just like the real thing, and stores carrying the Impossible Whopper have seen an increase in foot traffic. Meanwhile, independent and smaller restaurants are experiencing similar demand for plant-based alternatives, but Impossible Foods doesn’t have the supply to meet the needs of large chains and small chains alike. This situation has given rise to direct competitors like Beyond Meat, which is starting to gain much more recognition in the market after reaching agreements with Hooters and Tim Hortons.
Carl’s Jr. is a chain that’s taking a more radical approach to keeping up with the latest food trends. On April 20th, a day that has become associated with cannabis, it tested a CBD burger. The Rocky Mountain High Burger has a typical patty but it’s topped with CBD-infused sauce. Although popular for personal consumption, food and beverages that contain CBD exist in a gray area. The FDA conducted its first hearing on the use of CBD in restaurants this year and will continue to explore all of the pros and cons before either maintaining its illegality or overturning the current regulations.
While Burger King and Carl’s Jr. are adapting the traditional burger to cater to a more health-conscious or adventurous consumer base, IHOP is focusing on creative marketing. After this well-known breakfast chain decided to promote burgers last summer to drive lunch and dinner traffic, it received backlash from those who felt that a pancake place should stick to what it does best. In response, IHOP has begun marketing its burgers as just another category of pancakes. I mean, they’re the same shape, right? IHOP is also keeping a list of social media users who tweeted negative sentiments during last year’s promotion. The only way to get off this “Bancake List” is to tweet something positive about the brand.
In this season of increased burger consumption, you should give some thought to the innovations that are impacting the food industry and how restaurant chains are responding to new consumer preferences. For more information, check out our on-demand webinar, “Grilling Up Plant-Based Proteins on Your Menu,” and consult our data brief for tips on deciding what your menu should feature next.
According to a recent survey by Tork, millennials are three times more likely than baby boomers to believe that coworkers would judge them negatively for taking a lunch break. With millennials now constituting the majority of the workforce in the United States, their reluctance to eat during the workday is putting a dent in weekday-afternoon traffic. To counteract this mindset, brands are taking some interesting approaches. Potbelly, for instance, has partnered with UberConference to play hold music with humorous lyrics meant to make listeners crave a sandwich during afternoon conference calls.
How can your brand attract more lunchtime customers? Here are three proven ways:
- Drive on-premises visits. Timely messages containing lunch promotions should be sent through email or SMS. A buy-one, get-one-half-off promotion is likely to entice people to bring their coworkers and move their meetings outside of the office. Providing Wi-Fi and ample places for electronics to be plugged in will accommodate guests who are looking to get work done while they eat. Even the old promotion involving business cards being placed in a fishbowl can be digitized, enabling entry for the prize with each lunch order.
- Offer advance ordering and quick pickup. People who are hungry but don’t feel like they have much time to spare will appreciate being able to order ahead, whether online or through a mobile app. Advance ordering that is frictionless and easy to navigate makes it convenient for this segment of your guests to grab some lunch and take it back to the office.
- Focus on corporate catering clients. One of the most common office perks is company-provided lunch. The average business spends $1,100 per month on catering, so having that type of revenue can easily compensate for fewer individual orders. Since 30 percent of catering customers order weekly, attracting clients by offering a catering rewards program can provide a significant boost to sales. And if you make a good impression, those corporate employees are likely to visit you on their own time.
To learn more about what you can do to attract lunchtime business, register for our upcoming webinar, “How to Win the Lunch Crowd,” which takes place on July 9th at 1 p.m. EST.
Many restaurants face more of a challenge during the summer months, when regular guests may be out of the area on vacation or taking advantage of the warm weather to grill at home. Using your guest engagement platform to create innovative campaigns will help drive visits and incremental spend. Check out these five proven ways that your restaurant can keep your guests engaged and excited all season long.
1. Prepaid Meal Passes
Last summer, HuHot Mongolian Grill revamped its traditional summer gift card promotion and launched the HuHot Grill Pass. During the month of July, guests purchased the Grill Pass for 5, 11, or 25 entrées and had until the end of the year to redeem them. Since the guests had prepaid for their meals, they were more likely to buy additional items like appetizers and desserts. In fact, HuHot found that purchasers spent 80% more than the cost of the Grill Pass during the redemption period. Because of the initial expense, these passes keep guests coming back again and again.
2. Instant Wins
July is National Hot Dog Month, which presented a perfect opportunity for National Coney Island to reward its guests with instant wins. Throughout the month, new and existing program members had the chance to win free menu items like beverages or fries with every swipe of their loyalty card. After winning, guests had 14 days to come back and claim their prizes. This instant-win promotion not only created excitement but also delivered huge impact for National Coney Island’s business, nearly doubling enrollment and increasing visits by almost 40%.
Giving your guests the opportunity to complete a quest in order to receive a reward is a great way to increase transactions. The Yogurtland Flavor Quest challenged guests to visit and earn stamps in a virtual passport by trying new flavors that were released throughout the summer. The more new flavors they tried, the more yogurt they could earn at the end of the quest. In the first year that this promotion was run through the Yogurtland loyalty program and mobile app, participation tripled and 32% of the participants visited once a week or more.
4. One-to-One Visit Challenges
Giving your guests reasons to visit their favorite location more frequently is a successful way to increase your sales. With one-to-one visit challenges, you can vary the length or the number of visits needed in order to maximize ROI. Whereas infrequent guests might have to make fewer visits over a longer time span, your best guests may need to visit more often over a shorter period to complete the challenge. Using machine learning to figure out the best challenge for each guest gives you the best chance to truly drive incremental visits during these slower months.
5. Win Back Campaign
Summer is a great time to attract guests who haven’t visited recently through a win-back campaign. One particular restaurant experienced great success by sending the richest offers to guests who hadn’t visited in the past 12 months and lesser offers to those who were already actively engaged. During one of its win-back campaigns, the number of visits from infrequent guests increased by 176%. Once these guests have returned, there will be opportunities to keep them coming back all summer.
Learn how you can introduce these high-impact promotions to your marketing strategy – by calling Paytronix at 617-649-3300, extension 5 or requesting a demo today.
Restaurants commonly make three mistakes that restrict their ability to acquire new customers, keep them active, and encourage more frequent visits. You might be limiting the impact of your customer loyalty program without even realizing it, but eliminating these three things will help spur more growth.
- Stop requiring app downloads as the only way to participate. According to a recent Harris Poll survey, 58% of respondents were less likely to join a loyalty program that required them to download an app. Another study revealed that 18% of adults in the U.S. still don’t use a smartphone. Considering the number of people who don’t want to download an app and those who are unable to, why would you make that the only method for guests to enroll? By letting more guests interact with your restaurant in the ways they prefer, you increase your ability to market to them and drive incremental visits and spend. Ideally, guests should be able to enroll at the POS, via text-to-join, and even with a physical card. A mobile app is a valuable tool, but don’t make it your only one.
- Stop sending non-personalized emails. Your customer engagement strategy should be focused on building relationships with your guests. Sending the same generic email to everyone hinders your ability to connect with individual customers. According to SendGrid’s 2018 Global Email Benchmark Report, guests receive an average of seven emails per month per brand, with open rates of about 18%. How can you make sure that your marketing communication doesn’t become part of the 82% that guests never see? One way is by personalizing your emails directly in the subject line. When customers are only one visit away from earning a reward, including that information along with their name in the subject line will cut through their crowded inbox and influence them to visit. Getting customers to enroll is an important first step but keeping them active by communicating timely offers and promotions is what creates value for your restaurant.
- Stop missing opportunities to target nearby guests. An effective way to increase personalization and drive more visits is by utilizing geo-targeting in your marketing strategy. If some of your customers are nearby and debating where to eat, pushing them a notification at that time may be all the prodding needed for them to select your restaurant over all of their other options. Sending targeted messages to nearby guests results in a significantly higher visit rate than cold email blasts. By reaching out when they’re already close to a location and reminding them of available rewards or promotions, you can accelerate their visit frequency and trigger valuable incremental visits.
To learn more about why you should stop doing these three things, check out our free, on-demand webinar, “3 Things to Stop Doing in 2019.”