We have all seen the various indexes for social media across a variety of brands and industries, but most important is an index that can help us in our own business. This will come from domain expertise and critical mass. The Restaurant Social Media Index now supports more than 10,000 global restaurant brands and 80 million restaurant consumers. This is the oldest index in the industry with over four years of data on social restaurant consumers, habits and demographics.
I feel domain expertise will be the next category of big data that begins to move the needle for the small operator and large brands. Though most restaurant consumers are also consumers of just about every other retail product, their habit and patterns around food are much different. Understanding these elements will be super valuable in your quest to gain more revenue.
The social consumer and what they seek is the key to any great social connection, but many brands are failing with this connection. However, the most recent results from Q4 2013 reveal some insights that show brands like Chipotle, Buffalo Wild Wings, Subway and small wonder Tijuana Flats are hitting some home runs in location-based traffic in a time when other brands are facing a downturn in traffic and transactions.
Researching these brands revealed some interesting habits with social engagement. The message, and more importantly, the targeting of guests that best met their brand profile, was key for each. In other words, these brands understand what guests your brand is not reaching and they simply steal them. The more astounding data is the consumer frequency of these brands: once they get a customer, they seem to keep them. You can see more on the Location-Based Action Ranking for Q4 here.
What this means is that specific consumer data and their interactions with the domain (restaurants) is a huge advantage to a brand if they have a method to reach them. Chipotle and Buffalo Wild Wings were already up 20%+ in January in location-based traffic. Other winners in Location were Panera Bread, Wow Bao, Sweetgreen, Shake Shack and Firehouse Subs.
Big data is maturing fast, but more importantly is the data that is deep within one’s segment. This is proving to be key in sales growth, guest acquisition and competitive positioning. This represents what I think will be a more competitive landscape in the coming years for restaurants. We used to not really know where our customers were eating other than our establishments – now we do.