Restaurant marketers are intrigued by marketing concepts used by digital businesses and larger companies, but they are also frustrated that those concepts have been largely inaccessible to them because of the limitations of brick and mortar customer tracking.
For instance, restaurant marketers are frustrated by not being able to leverage things like behavioral segmentation in their marketing. With tools like Wi-Fi analytics platforms, however, marketing based on behavioral segmentation is now possible for companies with brick and mortar businesses.
What Is Behavioral Segmentation?
Behavioral segmentation is a form of market segmentation that groups consumers based on specific behavioral patterns they display when making purchasing decisions. Behavioral segmentation for restaurants drives marketing strategy because it allows marketers to target specific groups based on actual consumer buying behavior.
The behaviors most often tracked for purposes of customer segmentation are: knowledge of the product, attitude towards the product, how, when and how often the customer uses the product, customer loyalty to the product, and the benefits sought with regard to the product.
Digital businesses leverage behavioral segmentation in their marketing and product development in myriad ways. For example, the company may look at where their customers come from--Google search, Facebook, a referral link, or another online avenue--and what products they view or buy. Based on this information, the business can make decisions about which channel might be the best for advertising certain products to the certain identified market segment.
How Behavioral Segmentation Can Benefit Restaurants
Brick and mortar businesses, including restaurants, can also realize advantages by incorporating behavioral segmentation into their marketing and operational strategies.
- Dietary Preferences. If you are seeking to market new menu items or even develop new menus, knowing the “use” behavior of your client is very useful. If you have a large amount of customers who want gluten-free options, include a “GF” symbol by each item to market those items to those customers. If you see a growing base of health-conscious customers, devote a section of the menu to superfood-packed meals. Getting this information is as easy as offering a quick survey (online or tableside), email address required, in exchange for a chance to win a free meal, discount, etc. With the survey data and email addresses, you can also market to relevant segments through email campaigns!
- Take Out Orders. How your customers consume your food - as dine-in or take-out guests - is another important customer segmentation. If you know that each month more and more customers are ordering take-out, you might want to consider adding a small Grab & Go section for your location. If you operate a fast-casual or quick service restaurant, you might also consider separating your production line for dine-in versus take-out guests.
- Kid-Friendly Meals. If you have a fast-casual restaurant, your benefits-based customer segments can be divided as follows: family treat (they choose your product as a reward for the family); taste preference (they simply like your food); convenience (they choose your restaurant because it’s an easy option at the time); pressed for time (they’re there simply because it’s the fastest option and they are rushing around); real meal (they perceive your restaurant as giving them an option for a real or even healthy meal); or, a meeting place (they find your restaurant suitable for meeting with others, and will grab a bite while there).
To boost the sales of your kid-friendly meals, you might want to run a marketing campaign directed at the family treat and convenience segments. Understanding the motivations of these segments can drive the campaign, such as by focusing the ads on your clean, friendly and fun environment, easy to eat food, fast service and the good value of the food.
How Do You Incorporate Behavioral Segmentation into Your Marketing?
In order to incorporate behavioral segmentation into restaurant marketing, marketers need to understand their customer’s behavior. They need a way to track customer purchasing behavior, visiting behavior, and preferences related to their products and their industry as a whole. For some generalized information, reviewing yearly reports from the National Restaurant Association can be a helpful place to start. And, many other websites and videos are available to help guide restaurateurs to better understand their market segments.
- Forbes | Restaurant Segments Going Under (2013) & Better Data Enables Better Customer Segmentation (2015)
- YouTube | Market Segmentation Introduction (2015) & Behavioral & Psychographic Segmentation (2016)
- Other Online Resources | Market Segmentation “Study Guide” For Marketing Students & Restaurant Industry Blog on Market Segmentation
But above all, you need location-derived data. In-house surveys, customer loyalty metrics, including loyalty program participation, and daily restaurant traffic should be measured and analyzed. With regard to the take-out example used above, you may not have a POS system that distinguishes between take-out and dine-in orders. So, you need another tool to help you track that data. Likewise, you want a tool that can help you grab customer email addresses, ultimately linked to visiting and purchasing behavior and/or customer loyalty, so you can roll out ads and promotions directed to the appropriate consumer segments.
It All Boils Down to Reliable Analytics Data
Ultimately, you need a solid baseline of good customer analytics data to benefit from behavioral segmentation. A state of the art data tool, such as a Wi-Fi marketing platform, can help capture this data. Case in point: with such a tool, you can distinguish between the guests dine at your restaurant, and those who simply stop in to pick up a take-out order, without the need for a new POS system.