Operations

Consumer Craveability: How restaurants are building a loyal customer base

Photograph: Slim Chickens

As restaurants develop innovative strategies to build a loyal fan following, it can present a challenge to pinpoint which approaches work best to entice customers to keep coming back. For some restaurants, connecting with consumers is the key to a thriving brand—making it more than a business to consumer dynamic, but instead, a relationship built on a mutual adoration for an authentic concept.

Listening to consumer feedback

One of the main strategies to building a loyal fanbase involves making sure that brand messaging and promotions are relatable and transparent with guests. Slim Chickens, a beloved southern hospitality chicken concept, known for its cooked-to-order, hand-breaded tenders, has built an impressive fan following over the past two decades. Chris Allison, Chief Marketing Officer for Slim Chickens, shared that the brand actively responds to consumer feedback rather than attempting to decide what consumers want for them.

In addition to responding to customer feedback, restaurants will often aim to connect with fans in a way that allows for a sincere relationship between the restaurant and the consumer. For Slim Chickens, Allison noted that the brand’s most successful practice to nurture its widespread fanbase has been through its digital platforms and coining its fans as “Slimthusiasts,” which cultivate a community of guests who download the Slim Chickens app and receive loyalty points with purchases, along with additional specials and deals. The brand has now driven over a million app downloads with its fanbase of committed followers who feel a sense of identity with the brand. “Our fanbase ties back to us speaking honestly. We’re in a conversation with our customers rather than a sales pitch. We consider them to be our friends, and we speak to them in a way that we would with any of our other friends. We listen to our guests and we let them tell us what is relevant and then we amplify that back to them,” Allison said.

Getting creative with menu innovation

With the new digital era, brands are constantly looking at trends that are developing in the marketplace. As restaurants look at emerging flavors and menu items that will intrigue guests, they find that it’s important to find the sweet spot between uniquely innovative and satisfactory. When Slim Chickens launched the Tender Mac Bowls, the product was wildly successful as it complemented the brand’s existing southern menu items while still bringing a new flavor to the table. 

For some brands, it’s not just about listening to consumer feedback, but it’s also beneficial to apply knowledge from franchisees and staff members who are regularly interacting with customers. Oftentimes, staff members working on the ground all day will naturally find themselves hungry and even create trendy, off-menu items. Slim Chickens took this into account and launched a contest with its team members called “What Do You Make When Nobody's Looking?”.

As restaurants develop strategic marketing approaches and utilize their advertising funds to build a presence beyond local markets, many have struggled to scale. For Slim Chickens, in 2022, over 50% of all ad dollars collected at the system level were spent back into the local markets through digital media and social media. Given the brand’s 20-year industry-backed reputation and rapid expansion, Slim Chickens’ ability to scale beyond local markets and tactically utilize funds sets the brand apart in the chicken segment as well as within the restaurant industry.

To learn more, visit www.slimchickensfranchise.com/get-started/.

This post is sponsored by Slim Chickens

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