Understanding Your Target Market for Your Restaurant
In every business, its important to have a firm grasp on who you’re trying to target with your services or goods. Although you’ll want to attract as many paying customers as possible, it is inevitable that your business will appeal to certain groups of people more than others.
Some businesses will have a wider appeal, choosing to appeal to people by their budget or geographical location but keeping their target market purposefully vague so as to not shut out any potential business. However, if you choose to enter a competitive and crowded industry like the restaurant business, you’ll need to firmly identify which kind of customers you’re looking to attract. With a world of choice at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever to get lost if you fail to identify and seek out your target audience prior to opening your business.
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The UK’s restaurant industry is estimated to be worth a staggering £130 billion, but it has seen some tough times over the last few years due to the rapid expansion of many restaurant chains. As a result, restaurants are having to work harder to attract and retain the attention of customers, or they risk joining the thousands of failed businesses that have gone before them. So how can you narrow down who you’d like your target audience to be? And how can you find out what appeals to the people you’re looking to attract? We’ve got the answers.
Target Market of Restaurant Example
Let’s take a look at one of the restaurants here on Point Franchise, Bella Italia.
The casual-dining, mid-market, Italian food franchise has more than 110 restaurants across the country and has become one of the most popular Italian chain restaurants in the UK. Its family-friendly sites make it the perfect destination for children, adults of any age and groups, and its locations in malls, leisure parks and high streets make it a convenient meeting point for many.
Bella Italia offers relaxed, casual dining in all of its locations, providing better quality food than fast food restaurants, while remaining highly affordable. Its regular promotional offers honouring half-terms holidays, annual celebrations such as Valentine’s day and more keep it appealing to its family-oriented target audience, who want to eat delicious food without blowing their budgets.
Categories of Target Market
Target market can be identified through many different criteria beyond the obvious ones of age groups, gender and location. You may decide you’d like to cater to specific types of diners, such as large groups celebrating occasions, friends looking for a casual dinner location or couples on dates.
You could take it a step further and think about which times of day are likely to be your busiest. For example, a café is likely to see plenty of customers through the door at breakfast and lunchtime but few in the evenings. This will affect things such as your opening hours and the dishes you serve on your menu, as well as how you attract customers to your business. You might think that your restaurant is suited to serving the lunchtime rush of hungry workers, so advertising speedy service alongside how delicious your food is will make you more appealing.
All of these choices will influence how you set up and run your restaurant, down to details such as table placement, marketing and advertising, booking system, ambience and décor.
Market research can be an invaluable tool when you’re trying to get under the skin of the people you’d like to be your customers. You can pay specific market research companies to carry out surveys on the groups you’d like to target, or you can take to the search engines and see what existing research has unearthed about the people you’re going to be selling to.
Market research can reveal surprising trends among people well before they are common knowledge in the industry, giving you a massive leg up when it comes to accurately targeting your chosen group(s). For example, recent research has suggested that eating out is something we’re making space for in our budget, as more than £49 billion was spent on eating and drinking out in 2018 alone. This may encourage you to make your dream of opening a restaurant a reality, as it seems as though it’s a financially sensible time to be doing so.
Understanding Your Area
Even if you’ve got your heart set on establishing a restaurant in a certain area, you need to be practical about the financial constraints on the people around it. A high-end, fine dining restaurant isn’t likely to be very popular if you set it up on the edge of a housing estate, as chances are none of the locals will be able to afford your food.
On the other end of the scale, locating a budget restaurant chain in the heart of a cool, affluent city isn’t the wisest decision, as a unique restaurant concept offering different (and probably pricey) food is better suited to the people who live there. For example, a fish and chips restaurant like Harry Ramsden may be well suited to seaside towns, due to their elderly populations and influx of tourists throughout the year.
You also need to think about the area around your restaurant and identify competitors that are also likely to be popular with your target market. If you’re looking to set up a burger restaurant, but a popular rival is situated just around the corner, you might find it an uphill battle to attract customers. Make sure you carry out your research thoroughly, as if you fail to understand your target audience, you’re onto a loser from the start.
Sophie Cole, Point Franchise ©
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