Using a landline phone to make restaurant reservations is so 20th Century. These days, consumers expect to engage with restaurants online and through mobile devices. Restaurant operators who don’t build up their online presence and brand loyalty are missing an opportunity to generate higher sales. Even outlets that have not traditionally advertised are finding new business coming from social media efforts.
The new Social Media and Technology in the U.S. Foodservice Industry: Trends and Opportunities for an Emerging Market report by Packaged Facts explains that everything has changed in the food service industry. Don Monturori, publisher of Packaged Facts says, “We believe the restaurant industry is in the midst of being shaped by the convergence of the mobile, yet always connected, consumer; location-based and context-aware technological innovation, and mobile payments, which already demonstrate the potential to redefine how to cultivate restaurant guest loyalty, incentivize dining occasions, and better tailor marketing messages.” As proof of this new trend, consider these facts:
- Almost 1/3rd (31%) of consumers who frequent restaurants for eat-in or take-out meals use their computers to place orders.
- About 1/5th (21%) of consumers use mobile phones or other devices to place restaurant orders.
Facebook and Twitter are the leading social media outlets for restaurant operators to conquer. Packaged Facts analysts point out that food service operators should focus on location-based promotions this year as active Facebook users are ‘frequently on the go’. In addition, Twitter can be used to reach “a younger, more urban, multi–cultural audience.” Studies show that Twitter has significant appeal for emerging demographics – Hispanics, African Americans and Asians. And these social media tools aren’t just being used by traditional restaurants. One of this year’s most interesting trends is the growing number of food trucks that serve unique and ethnic fare in urban environments. These lower-cost outlets are turning to Twitter to promote themselves.
As the restaurant industry battles to regain the losses suffered during the recession, most operators will be turning to lower-cost forms of promotions. For many, social media seems to fit the bill.[Source: Facebook, Twitter and Smartphones Lead Social Media-Fueled Innovation within U.S. Foodservice. PackagedFacts.com. 8 Feb. 2011. Web. 24 Feb. 2011]