In search of new growth, restaurant industry to focus on customer loyalty

According to a study by The NPD Group, which is a global information company, restaurants will need to better cater to the needs of their customers to build loyalty and enhance value in an increasingly competitive market. 

NPD foodservice market research recently found that, although there were over 61 billion restaurant visits in 2012, restaurant traffic has yet to recover to pre-recession levels. Today, it is more difficult for restaurants to find growth with less consumer demand. At the heart of the challenge that lies ahead is a new consumer mindset, which is one that has an ongoing concern about financial stability.

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This new consumer mindset has restaurants challenged to find new ways to enhance consumer loyalty in their brands and in the value of their offerings.

Commonly, restaurants have approached this by offering lower-priced meals, and by improving upon the design of their venues.

With lower-priced meals, many casual dining and higher-end restaurants have moved to provide special promotions and lower-priced entrées. Aggressive discounting and coupon deals are now nationwide strategies to bring in customers to their front doors.

However, other venues have taken a different approach, including restaurant displays. As an example, in 2012 D’Angelo’s completed a new makeover aimed at the so-called millennial generation, which featured a “Think with Your Stomach” advertising blitz. The newly installed LCD flat screens, which use the VGS Simplicity™ Digital Menu Board System, feature menus and deals including a build-your-own option for cold sandwiches.

The return to focusing on customer loyalty for restaurants is important. As an example, NPD’s QSR Market Monitor, which tracks the correlation between loyalty and visits, found that loyal restaurant customers visit twice as often, they provide higher brand awareness, and loyal buyers have a higher tolerance for mistakes.

The new challenges restaurants face, both large and small, are encouraging businesses to look to new, innovative solutions.