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Some retail marketing strategies do not apply to restaurant marketing.

Let me give an example.

Beacons and mobile marketing.

Picture a consumer walking by retail and restaurant businesses. Beacon marketing has offers popping up on the customer’s mobile device as they walk by the business.

The idea is an intriguing way to get a customer’s attention.  But let’s look at the differences between retail and restaurants.

A retailer’s goal is to get you in the door to buy an item and then in the browsing process get you to buy other items.  So an offer to get you in the door can lead to a larger sale of other items or add-on purchases.  Retail browsing is typical behavior for shoppers out and about.

Most retail buyers do not search review sites to decide which retail shops to stop in.  Customers stroll through the area and stop in to stores that interest them.   Customers judge the merchandise with a visual scan and touching the merchandise.  If an offer pops up on their smartphone it may help encourage starting the buying process.

Let’s look at the restaurant business.  Two scenarios – customers familiar with the area and customers new to an area.

Customers Familiar with the Area
You already know how this works.  Friends talk about the types of food that interest them and then they pick the spot where they go to go eat.

Offering a coupon discount as they walk in the door seems to be throwing money out the window.  They’ve already made their decision.

Someone may have a coupon for the selected restaurant.  That’s okay. But, there’s no sense in making it easy.

Customers Not Familiar with the Area
Friends converse about the types of food that will interest everyone.  Chains may have an advantage because people are already familiar with the food.  If someone noticed the chain location it may be a quick decision.

Many times customers will search for “restaurants near me” on their smartphone.  They’ll follow the search results to read the ratings on sites like Yelp or Trip Advisor.

The first cut for local restaurants that people are not familiar with is the average star rating.  Restaurants with star ratings of 3.5 stars or less are off the consideration list.

From there people will look at the review site for the total number of ratings.  Ten or less ratings or very few ratings over the past year produces scepticism.  A restaurant with lots of ratings (25+) and average scores of close to 4 stars get added to the consideration list.

With a short list the group discusses prices, food and proximity leading to a decision where to eat.

A coupon discount is a low priority in the decision process.  Using beacons to offer a coupon discount as the customers walk in the door throws money out the window.

There is very little likelihood of add-on sales like retail.  Offering coupon discounts when they were going to eat at the restaurant anyhow is a waste of money.