Do you know who dines at your restaurant? I don’t mean take a look around and see whose butts are currently in your seats. I mean, are the people that you wanted to target when you first thought about opening your restaurant the ones actually dining there? More importantly, do you even know WHO your target market is?
Before I go any further, it’s important to define what I mean by target market:
A target market is not who YOU WANT to sell your food to. Instead, it’s the type of people that are EXPECTED to buy what you’re selling.
You can’t open a vegetarian restaurant, hoping to target steak eaters. Similarly, you can’t open a steak house and expect your customers to be women who are passionate about eating healthy. Make sense? So how do you decide who to target?
Start with the facts.
What is your unique selling point? What makes your restaurant different than anyone around you? Or anyone in your same industry? Your unique selling point will drive the type of people who will frequent your restaurant. Take into consideration the following:
- Income Level
- Education or job status
- Marital status
- Size of household
- Housing/Rental prices
- Local Businesses
Begin to create a fictitious profile of your average customer based on the above criteria.
What defines your target market?
What are the values, opinions, culture, lifestyle and topics of interest that makes up this demographic? If you can’t hire a marketing research firm to find out the information for you, consider doing the research yourself. Get to know the people in your area. Frequent shops, other restaurants, local events, etc. where your proposed target market shops, eats or hangs out to observe their character and buying habits. Check the social media profiles of these shops, as well as competitors, to see what customers love about these companies. See if there are any voids that need to be filled, which could lead to opportunities for your restaurant. Add these findings to the profile you began to create in step 1.
Does your target market live or work close enough to your concept to help support it?
Once you’ve defined the demographics and characteristics of your target market, are they anywhere near you? The U.S. Census Bureau is a great resource to use to find out. Type in your locations zip code, and the U.S. Census Bureau will spit out frequently requested data about your community (population, income, housing, etc… all the criteria you used to complete step #1!) Why is this helpful? If your marketing to college kids, but the nearest college is 30 miles away, your restaurant might have a problem. The closer your target audience is to your concept, the more likely they will come.
But it doesn’t stop there…
What is the generational profile of your target audience? Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen X’ers? Each group has different needs and values, which will effect your marketing messages and the platform you use for your target audience. For instance, Boomers are more likely to visit dining-in restaurants, while Millennials opt for delivery. Millennials rarely look to Facebook to keep up with brands, while it’s the predominant social network for Gen X’ers. Speak the language that best resonates with your target audience, give them offers that align with their values, and seek to connect with them on the platform where they can be found.
Whether your restaurant is established, or your concept hasn’t been built, learning about your target audience is a critical step to developing the right promotional strategy… and it’s never too late to get started. Give us a shout if you would like some assistance defining your audience. Tweet, Facebook us, or comment below!