If you are from the F&B industry, you might probably already understand its increasingly competitive landscape.
Sustaining sales and retaining customer loyalty in such a challenging environment is an upslope battle. Which is why keeping abreast of the latest food trends and devising a strategic digital strategy can be helpful in creating a competitive advantage for your business.
In order to create an effective digital strategy, it’s important to understand the customer journey. Clickr conducted a survey to gain consumer insights on how one discovers and decide on food and restaurants.
Through this survey, it reveals how digital plays an important role for F&B businesses and highlight the key factors that you should be taking note of to ensure digital success for your brand.
The survey comprised of 100 respondents with 65% aged 26 to 35, 24% aged 25 and below, 11% aged 36 and over, with each question allowing multiple choice.
Here are some of the key findings derived from the survey:
Word-of-Mouth & Social Media Posts From Friends
With the prevalence of social media, consumers are constantly exposed to new choices. It’s no wonder that social media posts wield a strong influence in the discovery process.
Actively seeking recommendations from friends – online or offline constitutes the highest weightage of 81.5%, while social media posts from friends comprised of 73.9%. With the ease of social media, it is now effortless for one to capture the aesthetics of food, or actively seek recommendations from friends via social media.
Singaporeans are always out on the hunt for the latest “instagrammable” restaurants or cafes to visit with their friends.
By exploring their feed on Instagram, users are passively consuming the upcoming food trends and discovering quirky places from their friends’ posts. With their curiosities piqued, they will go on to ask their friends for reviews on the food and their recommendations.
The discovery of food through peer influence and recommendations on social media is therefore a crucial point where brands can step in to create conversations or facilitate the sharing of information.
Food Bloggers & Portals
Next, food bloggers and portals come in third and fifth respectively on the rankings. By visiting portals like The Smart Local, consumers can be in the know of the latest food trends and options.
You might have seen posts like this popping up on your Facebook feed for great food deals.
As friends often share content from these sites, this helps you to gain more traction for your restaurant.
In addition, just a simple search on Google for the best burgers in Singapore will probably include results from food bloggers such as Seth Lui as shown below.
When potential diners are researching on food options, the visibility of your restaurant is increased significantly if your restaurant’s food reviews appear on these blogs. Furthermore, consumers tend to evaluate their impressions of the restaurant based on the ratings and reviews from these renowned food bloggers and portals.
Did you know, food blogs helps to increase brand awareness significantly? Based on statistics from SimilarWeb, Ladyironchef and Seth Lui attracts an average of 1 million and 800 thousand unique visitors per month respectively. By leveraging on their blog traffic, it helps boost your restaurant’s brand awareness.
You know the old adage, “A picture paints a thousand words”. What could be better than using photos to complement the food reviews to whet the appetite of potential diners?
Food bloggers are typically armed with professional cameras and photography editing skills that help to churn out mouthwatering photos to stimulate the visual senses of readers via the portrayal of food through visuals and text.
Food bloggers help to lend a voice to restaurants between their consumers, enhancing the authenticity of the restaurant’s brand in the long run.
If you’re faced with a question or uncertainty, you would most likely whip out your smartphone to Google for an answer. Similarly, your customers take the same approach.
As seen from the results, users turn to search engines as a popular option to fish for the best food options around them.
When potential customers chance upon your restaurant while searching online, it increases the possibility of them visiting your restaurant. The first impression counts, so make sure your restaurant’s website is in the top search engine results, as it’s only intuitive for users to click on the first few links that appear.
Here are some possible ways to enhance your restaurant’s brand visibility:
– Search Engine Optimisation
– Paid Ads
– Business Listings
– Collaborating with food bloggers
– Getting featured on popular online portals
On top of that, ensure that the information on your website is updated timely and provides relevant information. The visibility of your brand is usually the impetus for customers to determine if they want to patronise your restaurant.
Food apps/ Technology
The evolution of technology has also brought upon multiple food apps offering a range of services. For example, apps can offer food recommendations (e.g, Burpple), delivery (e.g, FoodPanda), to making reservations (e.g, Chope).
As a brand that leverages on these apps, you will get additional exposure and extended outreach to potential customers by tapping into the users of these apps.
For example, a user who is scrolling through the variety of restaurants on the app for food ideas may chance upon your restaurant’s menu and reviews, and decide to order.
Consumers are increasingly embracing the value of these applications as it provides an all-in-one service – convenience, variety and reviews. This helps to translate into more revenue and sales for the restaurants, by capitalising on the opportunity created by the growing online community.
While browsing for food reviews, you might have seen the advertisements accompanying in the pockets of space on the blog. These are windows of opportunity for your brand to increase its presence and relevance to its audience.
For example, if you are a burger joint looking to boost your brand visibility online, having an advertisement strategically positioned on a food review blog will give you enhanced presence from potential patrons who are in the process of food discovery.
And here is an example on Facebook:
Deciding on Food
Reviews Are Good
With the plethora of online platforms available, there are diverse channels to search for food reviews – on Google, Facebook or Burpple; on mobile, desktop or tablets.
These are privileges entitled to consumers with the advent of technology. In order to tap on the forces of digitalisation, restaurateurs must be prepared to make inroads on multiple avenues to establish their digital presence to sustain its business for the long haul.
Not only will this help to set your restaurant apart from its competitors, but also stimulate business growth and cement your restaurant’s standing in the F&B industry.
Food Looks Good
Due to the pervasive nature of social media, the aesthetics of how food is presented is increasingly important in deciding if we want to eat it.
Comparing the two options below, which one would you choose?
Well, I’m sure the taste of the food is important, but increasingly, consumers value the presentation of the food – it not only has to be a feast for the stomach, but for our eyes too.
Food Looks Interesting
As locals, we are always trying to sniff out what’s brewing in Singapore’s food scene. From rainbow-coloured cakes, to salted egg-anything, and exquisitely decorated themed cafes (e.g, Pokemon), consumers are always out on the hunt for the latest #foodporn.
Keeping up on social media helps you to come up with new ideas for food menu items and unique interior designs that will attract potential crowds, or even turn viral.
A good example would be the Pokemon cafe – a concept by Parco – that kicked off in Bugis EWF, attracting swarms of Pokemon hunters and enthusiasts alike. Capitalising on the intensity of the craze and hype of the Pokemon hunt, every minute detail of the cafe was tailored carefully to suit the theme of Pokemon. Even its menu was customised and revamped to feature the latest Pokemon Sun and Pokemon moon games!
Regularly Take Photos Of What You Eat
Equipped with smartphones in our hands, consumers are able to capture what they are doing, what they are eating, and post it online to share with family and friends. In this digital age, we are constantly sucked into our tiny phone screens, to indulge in the updates that one another is sharing on social media platforms – especially the images of your food.
Visit Website To View The Menu
Evidently, it’s important to make sure that consumers are able to look up on the menu online to determine if anything appeals to their palate before visiting the restaurant. In addition, the menu has to be responsive or mobile-friendly to allow consumers to browse with any device and enhance the user experience.
As more searches are now mobile than on desktop, it is critical to ensure responsiveness and enhance user experience tailored to mobile devices. If your page is not mobile-friendly, users will be less inclined to stick around.
According to a research by the StatCounter Global Stats in 2016, searches on mobile and tablet devices accounted for 51.3% of internet usage worldwide as compared to 48.7% on desktop.
Our clients are also seeing 60 to 80% of their visitors landing via mobile devices. While the trend of online searches on mobile devices is expected to continue, this opens an opportunity for you to create a competitive advantage over your fellow competitors.
Ensuring a satisfactory user experience not only helps to drive conversions, it also helps to steer you towards your quest for improved rankings on search engines like Google and increase conversion rates from site visitors.
An example could be Burntends, which is ranked #2 on Burpple’s Hot 100 food picks. This website can be further enhanced by including the menu on the website and optimising it for mobile devices so that the images on site can be displayed without having to navigate much around the screen.
Quick tip: Check out this Google tool here to help analyze if your website is mobile-optimised. If it is not, it might be worthwhile to start investing efforts in optimising your site!
Now what determines if your customers return?
Aside from nailing it down on the marketing strategies, delivering customers good food and hospitable service is most important!
Encourage satisfied customers to help to advocate your restaurant through word-of-mouth to friends and family, or share their delightful experience through their social network and reviews online. This in turn translates into a driving force for attracting more customers via multiple channels (online and offline), and increasing the consumer base to propel your business further.
In the event of bad experiences of food or service, it would inevitably attract negative word of mouth or bad reviews from customers on social media, which would influence the opinions of potential customers.
While there’s nothing too “digital” here, clearly good food, good customer service trumps!
In summary, it might seem like a lot to digest, but for starters, you can use social media effectively to build on your online presence. Never undermine the power of word of mouth influence including social media, to help spread the word and establish relationships with customers. While managing a restaurant is a challenging one, collaborating with food bloggers and related third party apps may help you leverage on a larger consumer base that might complement your restaurant’s marketing goals.
I hope this helped to share the importance of how your brand’s digital reputation can affect your restaurant, which is why it’s imperative to put in boost your digital presence in the F&B sphere. Do visit our blog for more digital marketing articles and if you have any questions on digital marketing in the F&B industry, feel free to contact us. Cheers!