Let’s face it – last year was a challenge for the restaurant space. Whispers of an industry recession persisted throughout much of 2017 and same-store sales growth halted for many prominent brands. You’ve probably spent most of this new year wondering what your brand can do to thrive in 2018, and the best place to start is by identifying the trends that will dominate the industry landscape in the next 11+ months.
A panel of restaurant marketing experts who specialize in fields from customer data analysis to guest engagement program design recently offered their opinions on what will be the biggest restaurant marketing trends in 2018. Here are a few that you should be mindful of:
- The convenience shift – One way to retain guests is to meet them in the spaces where they want to order and pay for their meals. Customers increasingly want more convenient experiences, and brands are shifting to accommodate them. That’s why you see many traditional full-service restaurants now offering takeout windows, or drive-thru establishments like McDonald’s partnering with Uber Eats to offer delivery service. Expanding on the ways your customers can interact with your brand will only increase the likelihood of them choosing you over a competitor.
- The digitization of the in-person experience – Similar to the convenience shift, there’s a growing need for brands to digitize and build efficiency into every interaction between the guest and the restaurant. This goes beyond remote interactions like online and mobile ordering and puts the digitized experience inside the four walls of the restaurant. So guests who do choose to eat out will still get a convenient, primarily digital experience. In 2018, successful brands will leverage technology to offer better experiences whether guests are ordering from their couch or from a booth inside the establishment.
- Turning more unknowns into knowns – Every brand deals with lapsed customers, so what would you rather have; a lapsed known customer or a lapsed unknown customer? Of course you’d rather have the former. The more a brand knows about its lapsed guests, the more data it has at its disposal to try and win them back. That’s why in 2018 brands must find more creative solutions to collect customer data and use what they know about them to keep them more engaged. Accommodating the need for more convenient and digitized experiences is a great start.
We recently discussed these and other trends in a webinar titled “The Future of Restaurant Marketing: Expert Predictions For 2018.” Click here to view the webinar on demand.