How Restaurants Can Use Incentive Marketing to Inspire Engagement | FSR magazine

The right deal at the right time will often be the defining factor in where consumers choose to eat, or to eat out at all.

Recent data found that over the past year, the price of full-service restaurant meals rose 9 percent and the price of limited-service meals rose 7.3 percent. It’s no surprise, as restaurants continue to reel from supply chain issues, talent shortages and rising operating costs.

Soon enough, rising restaurant prices will reach a ‘tipping point’ where menu prices outweigh value received, causing a decline in consumer demand. Consumers are already changing purchasing behaviors by eating out less, ordering fewer items or cooking at home more often.

To combat the negative impacts of a guest tipping point, restaurants must adapt to the moment by using smart targeting strategies and incentive marketing to stay top of mind.

Incentive Marketing & Direct Mail

The right deal at the right time will often be the defining factor in where consumers choose to eat, or to eat out at all. By using direct mail to deliver incentives directly to a consumer’s mailbox, brands can increase brand awareness, customer acquisition and loyalty.

Direct mail reaches across generations, including millennials. In fact, recent research from Vericast’s 2021 Restaurant Report revealed that 72 percent of millennials regularly read or look at ads they receive in the mail.

Beyond just brand awareness, direct mail also influences purchasing decisions. The same study mentioned above found that for over half of consumers, direct mail encourages them to visit a restaurant or order delivery.

An Omnichannel Approach

Incentive marketing using direct mail is most impactful when part of a larger omnichannel strategy. For example, brands can use direct mail to point consumers to an app or website to get more information or a personalized offer. Omnichannel shoppers have a 30 percent higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel.

Further, as digital platforms like Connected TV (CTV) and social media continue to grow in popularity and consumption, restaurants should consider the use of these channels to further amplify, tailor and localize messaging.

Take Advantage of Mega Pay Weeks

During times of inflation when consumers have less purchasing power, another strategy restaurants can use is targeting marketing initiatives for weeks when most Americans receive a paycheck.

According to IHS Markit payroll tracking data, there are four upcoming 2022 “mega pay dates” in which paychecks and benefit payments will happen simultaneously, meaning more Americans are getting paid on the same dates: September 2, September 30, December 2, and December 30. At Vericast, we have seen firsthand that businesses benefit greatly from running ads during mega pay dates and volumes during these weeks are some of the highest of the year.

Targeting communication before, during and after these key dates can help brands drive incremental traffic at a time when there is more discretionary income in the market.

Build Loyalty Through Offers

While the financial crunch is real, restaurants can still inspire action through incentive marketing, an omnichannel approach and strategic communication around mega pay weeks. These approaches will not only influence consumers to action through deals, but will help brands be top of mind when individuals are most likely to spend.