With so many different types of restaurants specializing in unique types of cuisine, operators might be inclined to target specific demographic groups to boost business. Restaurants often market their food niches and price points as a way to attract what they believe is a unique group of patrons. New research suggests this could be exactly the wrong strategy.
If 91% of Burger King customers also eat at McDonalds, should these marketers continue trying to differentiate themselves by targeting specific populations in their ad campaigns? The results of a Cornell Hospitality Report suggest that restaurants should be advertising their strengths to a broader audience instead. This report is based on a study conducted by WD Partners and the National Restaurant Association which queried consumers on how often they were eating at various nationally-branded restaurants. The survey included quick service, fast-casual, and full service formats. The results definitely pointed to a large crossover of restaurant patrons. Part of this behavior is due to group dining so even if a consumer is vegetarian, he or she can be convinced to eat at a steakhouse if the other people in the group want steak.
As a result of these findings, researchers say that restaurants should pull back on targeted marketing and emphasize mass marketing instead. Branding efforts should focus on food quality, atmosphere and service. When consumers recognize brand signs and buildings, the familiarity factor increases and so do the chances that they will visit a specific restaurant. These details appear to be far more important than the fact that the restaurant marketed to a particular ethnic or age group.[Source: Lynn, Michael. Lessons from Restaurant Duplication of Purchase Data. Cornell Hospitality Report. Feb. 2013. Web. 14 Mar. 2013]