Serving More Than a Recipe: Marketing an Experience
Mr. Arindam Basu, GM Marketing & Communications, Delta Corp Ltd As one of the most important pillars of the hospitality industry, Food and Beverage (F&B) establishments are going beyond their menus to curate a lifestyle for
Mr. Arindam Basu, GM Marketing & Communications, Delta Corp Ltd
As one of the most important pillars of the hospitality industry, Food and Beverage (F&B) establishments are going beyond their menus to curate a lifestyle for their customers. This is bringing about a new era of what may be termed as ‘Lifestyle Dining’, wherein restaurants, cafes and bars among others are tapping into the experiential desires of their audience.
Since time immemorial, food has been an integral part of our culture and tradition. This is what the hospitality industry around the world has been able to profit from. In India especially, culinary arts have been playing a vital role in building a holistic hospitality experience. However, with multiple players in the market offering similar value, people are now looking for something aspirational. People dine out not because they are hungry, but because they seek an experience.
In such a market, what is setting diners apart is the unique brand identity they are building. Taking a step forward from traditional concepts of dining, many new players in the industry are coming up with creative themes and concepts to differentiate themselves from the rest. These themes or concepts, which including menu and cuisine, décor, music, service style, and so on, define the overall identity of the respective F&B outlet.
The unique concepts, although integral to retain the existing customers does very little to attract new ones; there comes clever marketing to rescue. The dining industry therefore is exploring different strategies to market their value to different segments of the market.
1. Content and social media
Social media has become a treasure-trove of information and user generated content. It’s the only media vehicle where communication is a two-way street. Be it creating engaging content, interacting directly with the customers or associating with influencers to reach masses, social media has become the most common and important platform to showcase the best you can offer and garner interest. Gen Z and millennials are now consuming short form content like reel or tiktok videos more than browsing on search engines. As attention span goes shorter and shorter, people prefer content which is visually appealing and entertaining. Content and social media marketing is not an option anymore, it’s an absolute necessity to attract customers.
2. Influencer Marketing
Gone are the days when only big brands associated with celebrities or sportsters to influence decisions. Now, anyone who can be a little creative with content can become an influencer; more the followers/subscribers the better are the chances that brands would like to get associated with an influencer to reach a target audience; of course, it depends also on the niche the influencer has created for himself. According to a recent study on ‘marketing to Millennials and Gen-Z’ led by OMG Content, 86 per cent of the Gen Z and Millennial population on Instagram prefer to follow influencers. As a brand that aims to create a memorable experience for their visitors, collaborating with influencers is a great way to get the message across.
From weekly Bollywood nights, monthly open mics to festival celebrations, the list of events is endless! There is no better way to promote your hospitality brand than by hosting events that showcase your expertise and unique offerings. Events of different genres attract different segments of market, making it possible for you to expand your potential customer base.
4. Food and Restaurant Aggregators
Establishing a presence on food and restaurants related aggregators and online platforms has become essential for the players in the industry. Whether it is for, home delivery or table reservation, these platforms act as intermediaries to support of logistics, management, and customer service. But for the people, these platforms also create a space for comparison and feedback sharing. Partnering up with these applications and engaging the customers with various USPs and periodic offers are great ways to acquire new customers.
Associating your restaurant with non-perishable items sustain the recall value over a long period of time. Selling products not only benefit monetarily, but also build and reward brand loyalty. F&B outlets can invest in generic products like mugs, glasses and other forms of cutlery, DIY sets, or sell chef-special sauces and dips.
Creating interest and desirability in newer segments of the market is important to keep the business running, but we must not forget to engage with your current customer base! Maintaining engaging relationships with the existing customers may be a challenge but is also the most fruitful strategy to adopt in the service industry. As they say, it’s always costlier to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. The popular theory in the world of marketing suggests that 80 percent of the business comes from 20 per cent of the customers. This holds true for hospitality too. Loyalty benefits, Emails, personalised offers, seeking and responding to reviews, supporting user-generated content on social media, are among many other tactics validate the visitor and contribute to the quality of their experience.