By Doug Radkey, Foodable Industry Expert
In recent years, you may have come across an emerging term online or within the realm of marketing called hyper-local. Though the term was first introduced to the masses in the early 1990s, it really started taking form with the development of mobile and GPS applications over the past 5-10 years. However, the idea surrounding hyper-local has been used for decades in terms of basic market research.
The definition of hyper-local describes it as delivering services to a town, village, county, postal code, or another small, defined community within your region. The term is nothing fancy. Just a combination of two words that essentially describes your local community and a term that can be used within a multitude of industries in various ways.
Within the restaurant industry, it is fundamentally important to understand your hyper-local market, especially when it comes to demographics and competition. It should be an important aspect to not only your start-up research, but also for your ongoing re-evaluations of your marketing plans.
A radius of 1-5 miles surrounding your location of choice can be referred to as your hyper-local area. Here are the questions you need to answer to properly analyze your hyper-local competition and give your restaurant or bar the advantages it needs to be successful today, tomorrow, and next year.
The Defining Factors
Take this opportunity to determine the exact size of your hyper-local market in terms of demographics and the number of competitors, while taking this data and measuring it against your targeted customers. Look for trends over the past 5-10 years in addition to projected growth patterns over the next 5-10 years. Determine how many food service providers there are within the specified area plus how many are chains versus independently owned, while not forgetting about grocery stores and their emerging to-go menus.
Sizing Them Up
Don’t just list your competitors, analyze them. With in-depth research, you can determine their longevity in the market, their estimated revenue, their community perception (online reviews), their employment structure (positions, quantity, salaries, turnover), and location-related advantages. Consider talking to residents and suppliers to gain as much relevant information as possible. This data is an underlying asset to your restaurant and its future.
How is it that each of these competitors are marketing their restaurant in terms of promotions, price, experiences, and menu offerings? Do you believe they have strong brand recognition within the hyper-local area? Break down each competitor and follow it up with a summary of how you plan to position your restaurant or bar in comparison.
Filling a Gap
How are your competitors filling a gap within the market based on the hyper-local size, its demographics, and the other comparable competitors? Are they filling the demographic’s expectations in regards to food, drink, price, service, and experiences? Break down each competitor and follow it up with a summary of how your concept compares and will ultimately fit in to fill a gap.
With so much focus made towards online marketing, how does your competition measure up to today’s online expectations? How would you grade each of their websites, search engine results, online review site results, use of social media platforms, and online ordering or reservation-based tools? What strategies can you implement within your plans to create an opportunity and even more strength within your market?
How does each of your competitors deliver value to the market? How are they informing the local demographics and their staff about the restaurant’s top priorities and what its core beliefs are? How are they connecting with their target customers and how will you add value in return?
Does the competition have a concept that is scalable, profitable, memorable, consistent, and sustainable? Analyzing these five essential components will position you to anticipate your hyper-local competitor’s future moves and keep you a step ahead of the game.
Equally, anticipating shifts within the industry and with growing food costs, with further in-depth research, will prepare you for changes in market demands — which should be highlighted in your restaurant’s business development plan.
In summary, you want to look for ways to gain an advantage with educated assessments, whether it is against your most direct or indirect competitors. Properly analyzing this data will assist you in developing your SWOT analysis, your marketing campaigns, customer experience strategies, and developing your core menu items, while providing a winning, memorable restaurant concept and brand within your hyper-local community.