Restaurants’ marketing formula has gone far beyond showing consumers pretty photos of food with an adjective-heavy description. Now it’s all about showcasing culture. Not only do operators have to bring marketing down so individual customers feel a message is being delivered specifically to them, but they have to think beyond the menu, to what a brand stands for.
Here are some of the tactics we’re monitoring as the industry tries to win an increasingly hype-sensitive and socially conscious guest.
1. Real-feel photos
Chains such as Taco Bell and Wendy’s are venturing away from perfectly staged photos in favor of a more organic look and feel. Wendy’s brand strategy includes bolstering a homespun presence on Instagram, while the taco chain’s banking on its “behaving like a fan” ad campaign to convey a more natural aesthetic, an approach that has already proved successful on social media.
2. Mass hirings
Building off the momentum from the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative led by Starbucks and supported by Chipotle, Domino’s and more, Taco Bell launched its #SeeMyPotential campaign in August to hire 1.5 million young adults by 2022. On a (slightly) smaller scale, Lazy Dog Café said it was hiring 200 people in one fell swoop.
3. Phraseology: Fine casual
It’s a phrase Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer uses to describe the tide of more chains focusing on high-quality food and service. “Fine casual means taking the cultural properties that fine dining, at its best, believes in,” he told Entrepreneur earlier this year. Fine-casual concepts, he explains, source responsibly, hire people who care about hospitality and sell products that match fine dining at a fraction of the cost, making the delivery far more democratic.