How Transparency Can Set Your Restaurant Apart
How many times have your customers inquired about premium menu offerings in the last month? Did the terms “antibiotic-free” or “hormone-free” come up? There’s no denying that transparency is one of the biggest trends influencing the foodservice industry.
As consumers become more aware of the effect food has on their health and the environment, many are changing their eating preferences to include cleaner ingredients and responsibly raised animal proteins. Therefore, in order to stay relevant, you must demonstrate your commitment to transparency.
Elevate Menu Transparency
Are you meeting customer expectations? Start by understanding what your customers want and then identify how you can satisfy that demand while also boosting your profits. According to Technomic, more than half of consumers indicated that using sustainable foods creates a good value at foodservice locations.1
When it comes to seafood, 37% of people said that the sustainability of seafood is “very important” when making a purchasing decision and are “usually” willing to pay a higher price for it.2 Meanwhile, 68% of consumers feel antibiotic-free meat is healthier, with 37% willing to pay more for antibiotic-free foods.3 Consider shifting to antibiotic-free meats and sustainably sourced seafood like lake-grown Regal Springs Tilapia. Whether sourcing wild or farmed seafood, make sure it meets industry standards like BAP or Ocean Wise. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program can also provide helpful insights and recommendations on sustainable seafood.
Take advantage of high-value menu claims by calling out their attributes on the menu. Consumers want to see the high-value claims—it impacts their purchasing decisions and reinforces your commitment to high-quality ingredients. Having an effective menu can be one of your strongest marketing tools.
Expand Digital Presence
If you want to generate awareness and set yourself apart, it’s time to amplify your digital presence. Start with a visually appealing and informative website that provides an in-depth look at the story behind the restaurant, the menu and the staff. For example, in addition to the latest menus and promotions, Red Lobster clearly communicates its commitment to sustainable sourcing practices right on the home page. It links to another section of the website that provides additional information on how it sources sustainable, high-quality seafood.
The website can also be a great platform to share original blog content like what happens behind the scenes, signature recipes and profiles on ingredient purveyors. While The Butcher’s Daughter, sweetgreen, Surcheros and Sonny’s BBQ each have a unique website, they all share something in common—they are all clean-looking and easy to navigate, and all clearly convey the restaurant’s concept while offering valuable information. A successful website should also offer certain conveniences like online reservations or ordering capabilities. Additionally, it should link users to the restaurant’s social media platforms for added engagement.
With 96% of restaurants on social media, it’s imperative to establish a presence on relevant social platforms.4 Facebook and Twitter are the perfect platforms to share restaurant news, menu specials and promotions while Instagram is the ideal visual platform to showcase what happens in the kitchen and spotlight new dishes. Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer in New York City gained national attention when it shared photos of its over-the-top milkshakes on Instagram. When diners started to post pictures of the sweet treats, the press caught on and the restaurant had lines out the door. While this was a unique instance, social media is a great tool for garnering awareness and driving restaurant traffic.
Consumers have endless options when dining away from home, which is why menu transparency and an engaging online presence can help set restaurants apart. In order to stay top of mind, it’s time to start marketing yourself!
1 Tristano, Darren, How Shifting Health Priorities Will Change Foodservice in 2016, Technomic, 2/2/2016
2 Blank, Christine, Will Consumers Pay More for Sustainable Seafood?, SeafoodSource, 3/2/2016
3 Freier, Lizzy and Harvey, Aimee, Consumer & Restaurant Menu Trends: The Clean Label Influence (PDF), Technomic, 3/2017
4 Austin, Kendal, 10 Examples of Awesome Restaurant Social Media Marketing, Toast, 4/18/17