COMMENTARY

How restaurants can use popularity of online dating, Netflix to increase sales

How restaurants can use popularity of online dating, Netflix to increase sales

By Steven Stone, content marketing specialist, Paytronix Systems

Both consumer priorities and the choices they make have changed drastically over the past decade. With ecommerce, social media and ubiquitous mobile devices driving much of this change, restaurants and retailers are experiencing dramatic shifts in customer engagement. 

Recognizing and adapting to these new behavioral patterns is crucial to success. Let's look at a few cultural norms from just a few years ago and how they compare to the present:

  • Let's see what's playing at the movies ...  Let's see what got added to Netflix this month.
  • I'm going shopping, where are the car keys? … I'm going shopping, where is my laptop?
  • Maybe I'll meet someone at the bar tonight ... I met someone online and we're meeting up at the bar tonight.
  •  Can I get a ride? … I'm going to call an Uber.

These four examples illustrate an evolution in human behavior. Are these behavioral changes impacting the restaurant business? Let's take a look.
In this era of change, there's one thing that has not changed: food! In fact, people today are not eating less. They are just eating differently.
In fact, changes have happened before, and restaurants adapted to them. Just as, fast food and drive-through restaurants were a response to the post-World War II car culture, takeout and online ordering are a reply to the onslaught of social media and mobile devices.

It's important to stop and see just how restaurants can capitalize on cultural changes and learn to interact with their customers in new ways. An examination of two key areas, online dating and movie night, explain how this can be done.

Targeting the online dating community
Dating, for starters, has been completely revolutionized by online services such as Tinder, Match.com and OKCupid.  And while online dating may have replaced the bar scene as the preferred venue for meeting new partners, bars and restaurants still play a big role in dating.
Let's look at Tinder as an example of how this might work. With 32 million members and 10 million daily active users, Tinder orchestrates 1.3 million dates every week and, all told, has made nine billion total matches. 

These matches are still meeting in restaurants, bars and coffee shops.  But instead of going on a big, romantic first date — say dinner and a movie — online daters prefer a more casual, inexpensive meeting. Their orders are a lot smaller, and drinks are preferred – maybe a cup of coffee or a beer as opposed to an entire meal. The spending really depends on the quality of the date. 

So how can restaurants take advantage of the online dating paradigm? 
First, they need to Identify guest behavior and peer potential. One way to do this is to search for patterns within their loyalty program that will help identify the online dater. Is a member coming in several nights a week, but only visits the bar where he orders two drinks then leaves? Does someone visit the fast-casual restaurant in the middle of the afternoon for a single coffee, which they prefer to drink in the restaurant as opposed to taking it to go? Once he or she has been identified as an online dater, how can they be incentivized to spend more?

A restaurant can target these specific customers with first-date promotions that offer food with alcohol purchases or a free sandwich after 10 coffees have been purchased. The trick is to get these frequent visitors to order a starter item, an entree or dessert along with their drinks.  From there, the goal is to get them back in for a full meal once they start getting serious with a significant other. 

Another approach is to create an opt-in dating program. To get into the program,  a member identifies themselves as a dater and gets customized benefits, such as a free coffee or draft beer for every five purchased. The goal is always to increase visits and spend.

Moving away from dinner and a movie
Movie theaters have also been impacted by the way we consume media. Today there are many alternatives to going out to see a movie. Services like Netflix, HBO and Stars, have made it much easier for people to stay home and watch movies.
With 100 million subscribers and more than 50 billion hours streamed annually, Netflix reports that the average subscriber spends close to four weeks every year watching its content. Subscribers prefer to stay home, watch a movie and chill out. In many cases, they are ordering takeout food to eat while they watch.

These Netflix viewers are part of an ongoing restaurant evolution that has evolved from sit down dining to take out and drive through to home delivery and now online ordering.
Restaurants should be targeting the Netflix audience with specific offers and promotions. Just as with capturing the online dating crowd, the restaurant loyalty program is a great place to start.

Ideally, the restaurant online ordering program is integrated with the loyalty program.  This enables the restaurant to segment loyalty members based on recurring takeout orders, then target them with promotions designed for movie nights.
In many cases, these customers are ordering for their entire family. If the family profile has been defined, then the promotion might include two-for-one kids' meals or a free dessert with an extra large pizza. Capturing the movie night crowd can be a weekly restaurant bonus.  They may not come in and sit down, but they still want a good meal that someone else has prepared for them.

A strong loyalty program ensures that restaurants capitalize on evolutionary behaviors, such as online dating and movie night. It helps the brand create customized offers that transform these people from lost opportunities into loyal customers who can be encouraged to buy more food on a more frequent basis. 

Cover photo: istock
 


Topics: Marketing / Branding / Promotion

Companies: Paytronix Systems, Inc.


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