Restaurant marketing is the main way that you will be able to reach new people, showcase your offerings, and attract more customers, but you will need to stay up-to-date with the latest restaurant marketing trends too. In this article, you can find out about emerging marketing techniques and strategies to remain fully competitive.
- What is the Restaurant Industry?
- Why is it Important to Follow Restaurant Marketing Trends?
- 11 Popular Restaurant Marketing Trends of 2023
- Restaurant Marketing and Staffing Shortages
- Restaurant Technology and Restaurant Marketing
- Restaurant Marketing and Restaurant Management Software
What is the Restaurant Industry?
Before getting into the main restaurant marketing trends to follow, it is a good idea to define the restaurant industry. A simple description of the restaurant industry is the service industry section focused on providing food services where customers can eat on the premises.
Essentially, any business that allows customers to order and eat food on-site can be considered part of the restaurant industry. In other words, aside from the conventional restaurant meaning, the industry can also include cafés, bars, and other premises that offer on-site food services, even if they provide other benefits too.
In “Restaurant Industry: Overview, Types, Examples and More”, you can explore this definition further, learn how the restaurant industry and the food service industry differ and view examples of the various restaurant types.
Why is it Important to Follow Restaurant Marketing Trends?
Restaurant marketing is vital in general because it allows restaurants to establish brand values, become known to individuals, attract new customers and promote their main offerings. However, keeping pace with the latest trends is essential beyond simply engaging in a marketing strategy.
A failure to keep up with these restaurant marketing trends can provide rival restaurants with a significant competitive edge because they will be using techniques you are not, and because they will potentially be catering to customer needs that you are unaware of. These trends can also be seen as tried and tested techniques too.
By building awareness of these trends, you can ensure you are using the most essential and successful methods for reaching people and adopting a more measured, targeted, and strategic approach.
11 Popular Restaurant Marketing Trends of 2023
In the sections below, you can learn about 11 of the most popular restaurant marketing trends:
1. Emphasis on Cleaning
Food hygiene and the overall cleanliness of premises have always been vitally important within the restaurant industry. Still, cleanliness has now emerged as one of the single most essential restaurant marketing trends. It can help to differentiate one restaurant from another in a way that could be crucial for attracting customers.
The COVID-19 pandemic increased people’s awareness of hygiene issues, making it a more critical consideration across the entire hospitality industry. It is common to see restaurants highlighting hygiene certifications and their cleaning protocols, and the best restaurants will maintain the very highest standards.
If you want your restaurant to stand out and appeal to as many people as possible, you should focus on cleanliness and make it part of your marketing. Use your website and social media channels to explain your hygiene protocols and cleaning standards, and use photographs and video footage to demonstrate your efforts clearly.
2. Social Media Marketing
Social media platforms are a major marketing channel for businesses of all kinds, which also applies to restaurant marketing. Many customers will look for restaurants on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to get an idea of what they can expect from the restaurant before they make a booking.
Your hotel social media marketing can be used to show images of your dishes and include video marketing content. This could take the form of video restaurant tours or perhaps a ‘behind the scene look at how the kitchen operates. You can also share links to content marketing, such as blog posts.
Your social media channels should include contact information and, if possible, menus. You can also use the channels to interact with customers, manage reviews, respond to suggestions or feedback, answer questions, and highlight some of your more comprehensive brand values so that social media users get a clear sense of your restaurant.
3. Your Website & SEO
Your website is one of the most valuable restaurant marketing channels because it can simultaneously provide customers with all the information they need and allow them to make a booking with your restaurant.
Customers interested in visiting your restaurant will often go to your website first to get a feel for the business and to view information about the food on offer. If your website is high in quality, you should be able to encourage many of these visitors to take the next step and book a table or even order a takeaway.
However, you can also potentially attract visitors who are not aware of your restaurant or website by making intelligent use of search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques to boost your placement on search engine results pages. In particular, you should use keywords intelligently and focus on local search SEO techniques.
4. Google My Business
Following the previous point, visibility on Google, the world’s most popular online search engine, is a great way to increase business. Your presence can be significantly boosted by securing your Google My Business page. This will enable you to register your business with Google and reap various rewards.
In particular, by securing your My Business page, you can have a presence on Google Maps and can boost your visibility on local search results. You can also provide valuable information, such as your restaurant opening times, your menu, and photographs of your restaurant, and search engine users will also be able to access customer reviews.
Essentially, your Google My Business page is a great way to manage your presence across the various Google platforms from a single dashboard. It also allows you to manage reviews more easily and will help you to look more professional.
5. Customer Loyalty Programmes
Customer loyalty programmes are among the most popular restaurant marketing trends because they help not only attract one-off visits but ensure customers keep coming back time and time again. They can provide a clear incentive for customers to return and allow restaurants to maximise the lifetime customer value for those who participate.
There are different approaches to this, and each restaurant will have its own strategy. For instance, it could be that each visit earns a customer a stamp, and after they acquire five stamps, they are entitled to money off. Alternatively, customer loyalty programme members could be sent exclusive discount codes or coupons.
Regardless, the key to a great customer loyalty programme is to make customers feel appreciated for their loyalty to your restaurant. Reward them for returning, and they will continue to do so in future. This then helps you fill your restaurant daily and increases the likelihood they will recommend you to friends and family.
6. Restaurant POS Systems
Restaurant POS systems, or point of sale systems, are used to carry out retail transactions. While processing payments from customers may be their primary function, they can also collect valuable data and feed this into existing systems, which can then be used to inform your restaurant marketing campaigns and strategies.
You may also be able to promote aspects of your POS system too, such as the ability to process contactless card payments, the ability to process payments from mobile wallets, and the ability to pay via your own mobile app.
In the article “POS Systems: Overview and Importance in the Hospitality Industry” you will be able to learn more about what POS systems are, how they work, why they are so valuable to those working in the hospitality industry, and how they can function in combination with the other management systems you are using.
7. Online Ordering
Although a restaurant has to allow customers to eat on premises to be categorised as part of the restaurant industry, at least according to most standard definitions, this does not mean the on-site dining experience is the only experience you can offer. Increasingly, customers expect to be able to order restaurant food online for collection or delivery.
Meeting this expectation can be great for your restaurant marketing efforts, as it allows you to promote online ordering across social media channels, provide customers with direct links to your ordering page, and ensures you can generate additional income even when your restaurant is fully booked.
You will, however, need to ensure the restaurant management system you have in place can contend with online orders and that the ordering system itself provides a seamless user experience. Ideally, you should allow customers to pay online and provide options to pay using PayPal, Apple Pay, and similar services.
8. QR Code Restaurant Menus
QR codes are becoming more widespread and offer great convenience, allowing smartphone users to simply scan a QR code and click a link to access online content. A growing number of businesses are capitalising on this for marketing purposes, and it can be a beneficial form of restaurant marketing.
By creating a QR code that connects to your restaurant’s menu or to your restaurant’s mobile app, you can provide customers with easy access from anywhere they have their smartphone. You can include the QR code in your marketing emails, in customer service communications, across all social media channels, and on your restaurant building.
Within the restaurant, you can use QR codes so that customers can immediately access the menu. You could even opt to drastically reduce the number of physical menus you keep within the premises. A QR code that links to a menu with ordering capabilities can also serve as an excellent upselling tool because customers can quickly order more drinks or more food items without having to catch waiting staff’s attention.
9. Restaurant Chatbots
A restaurant chatbot is an example of restaurant technology powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. The chatbot will be able to process and interpret online chat-based communications from customers and respond intelligently, replicating the kind of communication a customer service rep would usually be responsible for.
A restaurant chatbot can be used to automate customer service communications, delivering rapid responses at all times of the day, even if staff are unavailable. However, chatbots can also be used to take reservations or to complete food orders, and this can ensure that service is swift across the board.
In the “Restaurant Chatbots: What Are They, Their Use and Benefits” article, you can learn more about this technology, including how restaurant chatbots work, how they are deployed, and why they are advantageous to use.
Personalisation is a potent restaurant marketing tool and one that restaurant management teams need to take full advantage of. Visitors to your restaurant want to know that they are valued as individuals and not just as a nameless, faceless entity, so you need to take steps to tailor your offering to them.
As mentioned, a customer loyalty programme can form one part of this, but your efforts need to go further. Do you have a system for tracking the individual preferences of customers? Are you able to personalise email communications so that you address them by name? Do you have a way to let customers alert you to birthdays and special events?
Ultimately, anything your restaurant can do to make people feel valued as individuals will help to improve personalisation. In general, a more personalised customer experience is a more pleasant and more memorable one.
11. Local Community Engagement
Finally, one of the best restaurant marketing approaches is to try and position your restaurant as an integral part of the local community. This can mean getting involved in local campaigns, and can also involve creating partnerships with local businesses, such as hotels, bars, and pubs, where both businesses can refer customers to one another.
Beyond this, there may be opportunities to participate in local events, sponsor a local sports team, host events for people or businesses in the nearby area, and find ways to generate positive PR through local newspapers.
Ultimately, customers are willing to go out of their way to support businesses that provide clear value for the local community. This is especially true in difficult times and evidence of this was seen during the COVID-19 pandemic when many restaurants and local businesses received considerable support from their communities.
A major challenge for many restaurants has been staff shortages. However, many of the best restaurant marketing strategies can also be used to reduce restaurant staff demands and help businesses cope with fewer employees. A good example of this is online ordering, which can help reduce the burden on restaurant waiting staff.
In the article “How to Solve Staffing Shortages in the Hospitality Industry with Technology” you will be able to learn about the staffing shortages that are affecting the hospitality industry and explore some of the creative ways that technology is being used to ease the burden on staff and help restaurants and other businesses to cope.
Good restaurant marketing will often rely on the use of the right technology, with QR codes and restaurant POS systems serving as clear examples of this. With that being said, restaurant technology also has other uses beyond marketing, and it is important to familiarise yourself with the latest trends.
In the “Latest Restaurant Technology Trends You Need to Know About” article, you will be able to explore the most significant technology trends disrupting the industry and learn how this technology is actually deployed.
Restaurant Marketing and Restaurant Management Software
POS systems used as part of restaurant marketing are a good example of restaurant management software in action. However, various other software solutions can also be beneficial, including order management software, CRM software, marketing and loyalty software, and restaurant chatbot software.
In the article “Restaurant Management Software: A Complete Overview”, you will find all of the information you need about these software solutions and various others, including the main features and the primary uses.
Restaurant marketing is crucial because it is the main way you will be able to reach new people and potentially attract new customers. The trends outlined in this post are among the most popular and most important for the current time and can be used to keep pace with rivals and even gain a competitive advantage over many of them.