Survey Says

Published On: March 7, 2018

In Q4 2017, performance in the restaurant industry trended up for the first time in two years (Tdn2K, RPI). This uptick made us, here at Fishbowl, wonder “how will the industry’s positive performance in 2017 impact both marketing spend and tactics in 2018?”
So last month we conducted a brief survey of restaurants across all industry segments.  Our goal was two-fold:  (1) to find out which marketing tactics were getting the highest priority and (2) to determine if the projected dollar amount allocated to those tactics would change from 2017 to 2018.
What did we find?
After going through the results, we decided to share the following high-level findings:  The majority of our respondents have fewer than 10 locations, where investments in large infrastructure and platforms cannot be amortized across locations. Given this, it’s no surprise that fewer respondents plan to invest in projects with more substantial outlays such as kiosk promotions and the integration of POS and CRM data. However, across all segments, almost all of the respondents are  invested in attracting new and repeat visitors through a healthy mix of tactics.  Nearly 85% of respondents plan to use social media heavily, while more than 80% indicated that 1:1 marketing and promotions are a high priority activity. For more than half of respondents, priorities also include email efficiency, loyalty programs, and growing a targetable database. And, like all good marketers, most respondents place emphasis on measuring and tracking their results to optimize their efforts in 2018.
As you can imagine, budget allocation tracks similarly.  When looking at specific segments, we found that  Fast Casual and Fine Dine are poised to spend more on marketing in 2018 v. 2017, while Casual Dine and Quick Serve Restaurants’ overall marketing spend will be flat in 2018. Across the board, social media and promotions remain the areas where the most respondents answered they plan to budget more in 2018 (more than 40%).  This doesn’t differ much between segments, however, respondents in the Fast Casual segment showed a greater propensity to invest in Mobile Apps.  The area of least investment is in TV and radio.
What is encouraging about the survey is the sense of optimism – and that respondents embrace the premise that to attract and develop repeat guests, they have to invest in reaching individuals how and where they want to be reached.  It’s a digital world and the ability to target guests uniquely is the key to marketing and overall success.  Here’s to refining these tactics in the new year.
This blog was written by Fishbowl’s Marketing Director, Heather Lawrence.

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