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Monday, January 31, 2011

Restaurant recovery has a way to go

According to research from Mintel—as published in today’s Marketing Daily—the out-of-home dining business is still dealing with consumers whose attitude is one of restraint. Click here for the full article.

Implications: If you run a sit-down or upscale restaurant, you probably experienced cut-backs during the recession, in which consumers either reduced the number of out-of-home dining occasions per month, or traded-down to a lower priced restaurant for more of their dining occasions (or both).

For the foreseeable future, restaurants of virtually all types will be trying to get the customer they lost to a lower-priced competitor to come back, or get their continuing customer based to dine out with greater frequency.

Which customer type does your restaurant serve? Did they dine at home more during the recession? How do you bring them back? (Will time savings be the key, or is it the long-denied “small indulgence” that will inspire their visit?) Did your customers “trade-down” for some of their restaurant occasions? What are the premium qualities of your restaurant they might miss? (Great service? Amazing food? An atmosphere that allows for conversation above the din of the restaurant?) Did your customers reduce their frequency of visits? How could you build-up that number of stops (do you have a loyalty program or a weekly special feature that’s worthy of an appointment)?

There are many implications to this story. New unrest in any part of the Middle East, of course, can impact the supply of oil to the rest of the world. When supply is short or uncertain, the price of oil generally goes up. Anything that is manufactured, distributed or sold through the use of petroleum can typically be expected to cost more. (This issue is not limited to cars and trucks.)

Mike Anderson

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