For Fast Casual and QSR Outlets, Cultural Marketing is Key to Future Growth
April 8, 2019
Written by Ozzie Godinez, CEO/Co-Founder
What’s for dinner? Odds are it will likely be ethnic food. Dinner in the U.S. is changing.
Today’s diners have become more comfortable with ethnic food that falls outside the expected fare and they are gravitating towards cuisine that, for them, is experimental. Besides trying dishes from other regions of the world, they are also becoming friendlier to traditional fare that may incorporate more exotic flavor. This trend is strengthened by the Millennial and Generation Z generations that are not tied to traditional menu items but see dining out as a way to express their individuality. Their cultural dexterity comes naturally since they are two of the most diverse generations yet.
As explored in the new PACO white paper, Cultural Food Marketing Across the QSR & Fast Casual Space, Fast Casual and QSR outlets have an opportunity to broaden their appeal to these emerging consumer groups by creating campaigns and promotions that speak to the flavors and spices, as well as the origin story behind them. The driver of these campaigns can be data analytics and experiments in spices and sauces.
Innovative Flavoring. Trends in flavoring come and go and it’s important that restaurants track which ones consumers want when they dine out. Some of these trends become part of the mainstream culture while others may only last a year. Regardless, catering to what diners want requires insight and incorporating these new sauces or spices into the menu requires the right messaging.
The mainstreaming of new ethnic spices is evident in the data: The NPD Group reports that the spices and seasonings like tikka masala, poblano, and doenjang are popping up on restaurant menus with more regularity. The NPD Group also found that the importing of these products are due to consumer demand: 75% of Americans are open to new flavorings, according to its 2018 report.
Menu Analytics. Big data offers insights into what works and what doesn’t on menus. Implementing an analytics system gives restaurants an opportunity to better craft dishes that appeal to trends, but also to better manage inventory, reduce loss, and to prevent risk of losing customers who either may be tired of menu items that they no longer want, or never appealed to them in the first place.
Analytics can also help restaurants track experiments or limited time offers. By tracking how they work on the menu over a limited time, restaurants can tweak ingredients or even the messaging that motivates consumers to try it for the first time.
Finally, restaurants may already have items on their menu that are pleasing to specific ethnic groups. Campaigns can target specific ethnicities through special deals or coupons. The timing can take place around certain ethnic holidays and celebrations. Analytics can help drive these promotions in showing which dishes can be expanded throughout the year on the menu or incorporated as a permanent choice.