As the leading out of home agency we appreciate the importance of the casual dining sector. Driven predominately by brands, the world of casual dining has taken the market by storm over the past ten years. Encompassing everything from premium concepts like Jamie’s Italian all the way through to mainstream pub groups such as Wetherspoons, the sector is worth around £6.6bn per annum and continues to grow. CGA Peach headed up by Peter Martin has long been a leading authority on the sector offering outstanding insight through their range of products which tap into both consumers and decision makers in the market.
This week saw their annual Insight and Marketing Conference held at BAFTA with an outstanding line up of speakers and of course Peter’s crystallisation of the market with ‘Ten Winning Trends’. So what are these ten trends you ask? Well, if you didn’t make it along on Wednesday here’s a potted synopsis of some of the key take outs of the day…
Peters’ Ten Winning Trends:
1) “Marketing is a philosophy not a department” Jim Sullivan
The importance of end to end delivery, through employee engagement.
Understanding the local environment of individual sites is key. Finessing a brand so it retains its core values but plays to its strengths in that particular setting is crucial and a great example is Leeds Trinity.
3) Optimism & Growth
29% of decision makers are very optimistic and 61% are fairly optimistic, which is the best it has been for some time (given the recession). There is a note of caution though as market growth seems to be being driven by new outlet growth casual dining brands, but is not however converting into same store sales growth.
This can been seen around us everywhere, from for example, Byron with its premium burgers and premium craft beers. Premiumisation has been identified by decision makers as a concept that is most likely to thrive and is doing well.
5) The Rise of Wetherspoons
Like it or loath it, it’s doing incredibly well. Wetherspoons isn’t about old men with pints anymore it is ‘where all human life is’. With 900+ sites, 43% of the population have used Wetherspoons to eat in the past 6 months (only McDonalds, Greggs and Costa have higher stats). Students go there on Saturdays to drink cocktails, others go for curry, some for breakfast. They are masters of the day part and are managing to attract a wide demographic which is driving strong growth.
6) The Power of Technology
Leveraging technology to improve consumers’ experience and tailor it to their requirements is becoming increasingly a route for differentiation. Wave and pay, online bookings, clever promotions through epos and insight can all help operators grow their business.
7) Stretch Day Parts
By offering what consumers want throughout the day, businesses can make the most of their site. Great coffee at breakfast, offering free Wi-Fi and access to charge will help drive the afternoon crowd, clever discounts to drive students outside of core meal times and happy hours to get the evening started earlier all help to stretch the day parts to make more out of them.
8) Take Your Brand to the People
There’s a saying – ‘fish where the fish are’. Nothing could be truer for casual dining operators and that’s exactly why casual dining brands are popping-up where there is high footfall, travel hubs, shopping centres and even office developments.
9) The Age of Polygamy
The average consumer will use eight casual dining brands rising to 13 plus for the more upper middleclass amongst us (and that’s in addition to independents). Now-a-days it’s less an issue of loyalty but more of frequency. In fact of consumers, 46% eat out weekly, with the young eating out more and the figure rising to 59% in London. Brands like Wagamamas and Jamie’s Italian have very different offers but will be competing for the same consumers who will have both in their repertoire of brands. Finding ways to drive frequency and loyalty will be key moving forward.
10) Protein Power
The rise of big slabs of meat and burgers! From Hawksmoor to Black and Blue, beef is back with a vengeance! BBQ is the next big thing with ‘smoking’ becoming a real trend. Chicken, cheaper cuts, and single item menus all top the food trends chart reinforcing the power of protein!
But it wasn’t all about Peter, the line of speakers took us through issues as diverse as the student market to technology and cool new brands such as Reds True BBQ. Here’s some of the highlights in a nutshell:
Pizza Hut – The family market is worth 43% of the casual dining market as a whole and to make the most of it and not alienate other customers, Pizza Hut needs to be the equivalent of Toy Story or Shrek (appeals to both kids and adults). They had a bit of an identity crisis and needed to differentiate. They have listened to consumers and know how important it is to welcome the kids first, to keep the beans off the chips, to have a tiered kid’s menu (splitting younger and older kids) and of course to have clean loos! It’s been around for 40 years and still has more customers than any other casual dining brand and with new initiatives online and in-store (Pepsi flavours station and Craft Beer!) it’s far from the Pizza Hut you remember from your childhood. To see these changes in action you can go to their Crawley flag ship outlet!
Empathica – Trip Advisor has around 35-40 million reviews a year. 92% of consumers trust recommendations from a friend and 80% trust review sites as if they were a friend! 75% use Facebook to make restaurant decisions and half have tried a restaurant based on social media recommendations – on that basis the online review can make or break a business. The masters of customer feedback, Empathica, highlighted the worrying disconnect between reviews on review sites and customer survey reviews with online tending to give between 16-24% lower ratings as consumers take to the internet to ‘vent’ on bad service or food. By making consumer feedback surveys more flexible and intelligent and then linking them to review sites or brand sites to post, they believe they can offer a more rounded feedback picture (and often more positive) as well as offering the data to be able to address any issues raised. The future? Certified reviews through feedback systems so you know they really were there!
CGA Strategy – Raised the issue of wet led sales. Long dismissed as second to the rise of food, drink menus are now becoming increasingly important. We may have lost 12,000 wet led pubs but the likes of Byron with its range of fabulous craft beers and Las Iguanas with cocktails are showing what casual dining can do with a strong drinks offer. Consumer expectations have risen, they are more sophisticated and adventurous. Sites that are opening have drinks menus where 60% sits away from beer, offering wine, cocktails, premium spirits and soft drinks. Alcohol is huge in casual dining with 40%/21mil meals involving an alcoholic drink. 52% of consumers say that alcohol is an important driver when choosing where to eat. Stats show the rise in what has been coined the ‘weekend millionaire’ with 75% of drink sales on Friday and Saturday nights, whilst premium spirit brands over index mid-week. Concepts built around entertainment and drink are also on the rise e.g. Ping, Bounce, All Star Lanes Bowling, Speakeasy Underground, Kiki Hawaiian etc. Hotels are offering 200 kinds of premium tequila, cocktails account for 4% of the on trade and 16% of wet led pubs serve cocktails, with trends from craft to grains, British to herbs popping up. Customisation is also a big thing with Pepsi and Coke offering their flavour blend solutions – maybe it will be spirits or beer next? And with consumers deciding at the bar, the battle to get to the front is on with Prosecco now coming on tap and draft cocktails. 87% of people are more likely to visit an outlet if it does promotions on cocktails, 57% of cocktail drinkers will start with a cocktail and 42% will pay up to £7 for a cocktail. So, be it craft beer, premium spirits or cocktails, the opportunity for casual dining is huge!
The Beans Group – Here we found out about the often misunderstood student market. Debunking some of the widely held misconceptions, they showed us a consumer group. So what are they like? Well…students are more industrious and productive than before, they have a good disposable income (circa £7K), will spend more in fresher’s week than any other time (30% more), want to engage with brands, values and expect discounts, don’t like ‘try hard’ brands, live on their smartphones, are foodies and can influence their peers and act as brand ambassadors! So not exactly the ‘Young Ones’ anymore! They are very mainstream and can be a valuable demographic for casual dining brands.
Reds True BBQ & Meat Liquor – Possibly the most casual of casual dining brands took to the stage for a panel discussion and to take us through their brands and backstories. Both came off incredibly cool and ‘rock ‘n roll’ as are the brands they have built. A new one on me as they are up In Leeds and Manchester, Reds True BBQ is a hip brand built around the religion of BBQ, offering amazing slow cooked BBQ food which people will queue around the block for and a concept that engages from day one. Whilst Meat Liquor is a fast growing brand offering a premium dirty burger experience (and so much more!). We got to hear about how they started and the challenges along the way. Reds had no restaurant experience and didn’t even know what a pass was but have built an incredibly successful brand. Meat Liquor has continually taken sites no other brands would touch and turned them around spectacularly. From a burger van in a car park, hard work and a flare for cool has driven the brand to where it is today, whilst Reds, after a comparatively short time have managed to engage with consumers through their brand language of (believers and non-believers, worshiping at the meat alter, menu being a good book etc.). Through social media both brands have built a strong following and continue to expand and grow their sites.
WE ARE Spectacular – Here we had a crash course in all things social. Focusing on mobile, keeping it simple, respecting the nuances of the channel, story-telling, talking the language around you (going native), not interrupting, not making demands, leveraging pop culture, being consistent and self-aware pretty much sum up the basics. With examples taken from Starbucks, Pho, Dominos, Prêt, Yo! and many more, it was all about getting it right and harnessing the value of social.
Klood – Extending the social theme around ROI and measurement Klood looked more at the detail of social. With interesting observations around following blood sugar levels for food brand tweets in order to drive consumers to purchase, posting at 1.32am to reach the young mothers market, tailoring of content to avoid brand message overload on Facebook, measuring engagement, the power of photos, dark posts and much more. Interestingly, they believe social media optimisation (SMO) will become the new search engine optimisation (SEO), driving your online brand as social becomes more and more influential.
Zonal – As a sponsor of the day and also a Jellybean client we were keen to hear what Zonal has to day. The main take-out was really about the challenge to link-up the range of technologies we now have at our disposable in order to create a better consumer journey. Guest recognition may be a new innovation with iBeacon but all the other elements exist and it is a case of making them really work well together to inform waiting staff and making the customer’s life easier. From paying via mobile to reminding servers of how long a table has waited and even speeding up back of house efficiencies or informing a site of the value of the customer onsite, Zonal can help casual dining brands do it all and they do with a large majority of those present.
Dominos – I first saw Dominos speak at the IPM Mobile Marketing Conference as they are held up as a true pioneer in the field. By their own admission for them it is all about being first, fast and famous and this ethos has driven their online business. In 2013 they had £338m of ecommerce sales, 4million iPhones in the UK have their app, they are currently developing a responsively designed site and they are very much a multiplatform retailer, with 47% of their marketing spend set to be digital this year. Their online consumers prove to be a far more frequent and higher value transaction opportunity so it has obviously been the right direction and one that others look to follow. However, they were happy to also admit the mistakes they have made along the way; building separate systems for different platforms, underestimating the expense of the investment required and ongoing maintenance, even the issues caused by success such as bottlenecks for stores in peek-times and a number of other things they would have done differently. However, there is no denying they have done a great job and their boldness as a brand has served them well.
Of course this blog only skims the surface of what was a hugely interesting and greatly insightful day. Well done to Peter and Christine and the team at CGA Peach for all their hard work. A great day with great people and some great take-outs.
To find out more about CGA Peach click here
Copyright © 2017 Jellybean Creative Solutions. All rights reserved.
Company No. 2303631. Registered Address: 4 Bridge Street, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 8BZ