Consumers need to hear compelling messages about why they should choose one brand over another when they eat out—while for operators it is more important than ever to pick the right spots for openings.

Those were two of the big messages from CGA’s food and retail business unit director Karl Chessell in a session at last week’s Restaurant Conference.

While hospitality fundamentals like value, service and food quality remain crucial, CGA’s data shows that more and more consumers are motivated by the principles and practices of the brands they use. And that makes it important to show a clear and genuine sense of purpose, especially on big issues like sustainability and engagement with communities and staff.

Chessell’s session flagged up CGA’s BrandTrack data showing that nearly half (47%) of consumers think the sustainability of ingredients is important when choosing a meal in restaurants. Nearly nine in ten (86%) meanwhile consider it important that venues they visit invest in their local communities. These concerns over how brands think about the environment and people are therefore mainstream in society.

Responding well to these and other ethical issues can make a big difference to sales at a time when people have so much eating-out choice, he said. “Consumers’ expectations are growing, and they don’t just care what a restaurant offers them, but how it truly differentiates, and whether they can connect to its why.”

As well as setting out their purpose, operators need pinpoint accuracy in their location planning. With restaurants reaching saturation point in some areas and like for like sales largely flat, a hyper-local understanding of trends and demographics is vital.

CGA’s consumer segmentation tools can help by identifying demographics on the doorsteps of potential new openings. For example, they show that Altrincham has high levels of affluence and over-indexes on consumers in the ‘Carefree Dolce Vitas’ segment of discerning and health-conscious empty-nesters with money to spend on eating-out—useful intelligence for brands trying to work out if their offer would play well there. Using this postcode-level data to optimise formats, menus, price points and much more will also be pivotal to success in the years ahead, Chessell told the conference.

With street food, on the go and delivery offers all adding to the competitive pressures, operators also need to work out where they fit in the omnichannel food sector. “How do they leverage the value of their brand to reach customers consistently across different channels?“

For more about the data presented at the Restaurant Conference, and how CGA’s consumer trends and segmentation services can improve all brands’ decision making, contact Karl Chessell.


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