By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large
After any major election, especially the most recent presidential one, there is bound to be some uncertainty among consumers. This often impacts their buying behaviors.
Will consumers be visiting less restaurants? With commodity prices low and the consumer's uncertainty will restaurants be less busy this holiday season? Or will the holiday season bring the usual foot traffic?
Nonetheless, restaurant operators and marketers should be ready to up the ante to get their customers dining with them.
We decided to sit down with a few of the best Chief Marketing Officers in the restaurant industry and a co-founder at an emerging fast casual pizza brand to get some insights on how their brands plan to thrive in today's market post-election.
How have the brand's marketing efforts changed during and after the election?
Monique Yeager, CMO at Tijuana Flats: We have always had an “anything goes approach to food, service, art, hot sauces and life in general. This montre definitely includes marketing. We take the approach all year round – nothing should be canned or predictable. This hasn’t changed pre or post election.
Clay Dover, CMO at Pei Wei: Like the entire industry, we saw fluctuations and consumer concerns throughout the season, but we have remained and will continue to stay focused on our flavor with purpose mission that showcases mindfully sourced ingredients chosen for their flavors and nutritional benefits.
Elise Wetzel, co-founder at Blaze Pizza: Our marketing efforts have been consistent throughout the election cycle, and we don’t envision any pivoting based on the outcome. The celebration of individuality has been our mantra since day one, and Blaze Pizza will continue to convey that sentiment throughout our marketing materials.
How does brand plan to thrive in the post-election market?
Yeager: Tijuana Flats will continue it’s success by offering unique hot sauce selections at the hot sauce bar, amazing service by our team members, crave able food from our signature seasoned chips to our Bangin’ chicken tostadas and being active community members.
Dover: We certainly hope to see a steadier climate now that the election is over. We are optimistic about the future, and will keep a close eye on issues that affect our industry, including regulations such as menu labeling and minimum wage. Pei Wei will continue to drive the eating well is well being positioning including promoting the quality of our dishes and flavor with purpose.
Wetzel: We plan to thrive in the post-election market the same way we have been thriving pre-election, by celebrating individuality and our guests unique perspectives, whether that includes their personal beliefs, or providing tons of different fresh toppings so they can express their creativity via a perfect pizza they create themselves! By cultivating an enjoyable atmosphere where memorable discussions are had around a shared table, we believe Blaze Pizza will continue to be a destination that people look forward to dining at.
What's your brands plan for growth in 2017?
Yeager: We plan to open 15 restaurants, expand our sales distribution by launching full service catering, which we begin testing this holiday season, delivery in several restaurants and launching our Smack My App ‘Next Level’ Loyalty program which will include mobile pay, pay ahead and curbside pick up.
Dover: We are excited to opening seven U.S. restaurants in 2017 in markets such as Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, New Mexico. Rolling out our rebrand in 2017 will be a key focus.In addition, we will be increasing our international presence with restaurant growth in South Korea and other countries.
Wetzel: We plan on continuing our 2016 growth pace by adding upward of another 100 locations across the county. We also look forward to growing our robust digital channels like Snapchat, and utilizing our cutting-edge, user-friendly mobile app to reward our fans with free pizza and other delicious surprises.