January 31st, 2017 in Restaurants

Mother Nature Serves up a Ferocious Appetite

According to a 2016 Zagat study, Americans go out to eat an average of 4.5 times per week. In fact, money spent on eating out has surpassed spending on groceries. This marks a critical milestone in American culture – one restaurants must be ready to capitalize on.

According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 90 percent of restaurant operators report that changes in local weather conditions impact their sales. As a result, weather is often used to predict foot traffic and influence staffing level adjustments, especially when extreme, adverse weather conditions are expected. This is a smart move by restaurant managers, but it represents only a fraction of what is possible.

Research proves weather impacts what people crave and where they go to consume a meal. By focusing on every day weather context, restaurants can attract more visitors in all kinds of weather conditions. For those that experiment with a weather driven marketing strategy, the approach has proven impactful. Restaurants that reach consumers during their daily planning moments and feature menu items based on local weather conditions drive more sales. One quick serve restaurant experienced a 23% lift in sales by geo-targeting potential diners with ads featuring menu items that were appealing in the context of local weather conditions.

Those who wish to capitalize on weather influence should consider the following three actions.

  • Refresh daily promotional campaigns to spotlight menu items aligned to local weather conditions. For example, cloudy, cold weather will put diners in the mood for comfort food, while sunny, warm conditions will inspire healthier eating.
  • Recognize the impact weather has not only on traffic, but also on how guests perceive their experience. Poor weather can lead to bad reviews, while sunny, comfortable temperatures will lead to more positive reviews. Use this information to enhance visitor experiences and time review incentive programs accordingly.
  • Target the timing of advertising programs to align to meal decision moments. This is especially important at lunch time. One study conducted by The Weather Company concluded that 60% of people who ate out for lunch did not decide what they wanted until one hour before taking their lunch break. A critical factor in their decision making was the weather – both what they wanted to eat, and how far they were willing to travel.

Bon Appétit!

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