New Consumer Trends to Watch for in 2022: Restaurant Owners Marketing Guide

From the moment your customers take the first bite of one of your unique dishes, they’re hooked. The problem is that if your target audience never hears about your restaurant, they can’t experience your culinary prowess. So, how do you get more people through the door or on your online ordering page? You may have had a marketing strategy in place pre-pandemic, but the global events of the past few years have changed everything, including consumer values and motivations.

Now that the restaurant industry is on the path toward recovery, we need to find innovative ways to attract a different kind of customer that may have not existed before COVID-19 entered the equation. Keep reading for a restaurant marketing masterclass on reaching new customers and keeping your patrons engaged with your brand and business.

New Consumer Trends in Restaurant Industry 2022

Guide to Restaurant Marketing in a New Era

Many restaurants struggled to find their footing during the pandemic and had to quickly adapt to systems that relied heavily on online delivery and pickup. As the pandemic settles and people become more willing to venture into public places, it’s important to understand your patrons may not respond to the same messages and marketing tactics as before COVID-19. We’ve compiled the latest data on consumer behavior and digital marketing trends so you can stay up to date and keep your restaurant thriving.

Empower Customers to Take Control of Their Health

We live in an era of regulations that, while necessary, leave many of us feeling like we don’t have control over our lives. Times are changing, and it’s easy for consumers to feel like the rug is being pulled out from underneath them. While restaurants pride themselves on their delicious dishes, what customers truly desire is the ability to take agency over their health and wellbeing. With more time than ever to reflect on the state of their current and future health, many customers have renewed interest in making healthy diet and lifestyle choices. 

According to research, when asked, 45% of consumers said they were unlikely to return to a restaurant that had a food safety incident. This means that your consumers are taking a harder look at the businesses they’re buying from, and you need to show them your restaurant is upfront with all your ingredients and practices if you want to win over this new-age customer. 

Not only do consumers crave the ability to make decisions that benefit them, but they’re also more concerned with their ecological footprint than ever before.

How should this interest in health inform your marketing strategy?

To adapt to the current mood of your audience, build your campaign around the idea that your establishment is committed to providing healthy food options and minimizing your negative impact on the environment. Speak to the environmentally conscious by showcasing your healthier dishes and the steps you’ve taken to reduce your eco-footprint. If you have a plant-based menu, make a post about it, or feature the option on the homepage of your website. 

While consumers don’t want to be told what to do, they do want all the information. Find creative ways on your social media to give guidance about food choices and highlight the nutritional benefits of your more popular menu items.

Give Consumers Opportunities to Expand Their Horizons

New Consumer Trends in Restaurant Industry 2022

After being stuck in one place for so long, consumers are jumping at chances to try new things and expand their horizons. COVID-19 recovery has ignited your patrons’ adventurous spirit, and you can be their tour guide to tasty meals and unique experiences. At the peak of the pandemic, people found comfort in trying new recipes because it gave them an outlet for creativity and excitement in a situation that felt stifling. 

Now that many consumers are coming out on the other side of the pandemic with an appreciation for getting out of their comfort zones and trying new dishes, they are looking for restaurants that can help them satisfy their craving for adventure. What your potential patrons really desire is an escape from the ordinary, a chance to have a small break from the anxiety and boredom that may accompany the chores, jobs, caretaking and more that they deal with daily. 

How can you speak to these consumers and increase brand awareness? 

If you want to grow your brand and speak to the adventurous side of customers, you need to think outside the box.  Curate your content and online presence to emphasize the playfulness or experimental side of your brand. A great way to position your products as something outside the ordinary is to showcase your most unique offerings. This will draw consumers in and remind them that their next adventure may be right around the corner. 
For your customers who are still wary about crowds, you may need to push the boundaries of your normal restaurant operations. During the height of the pandemic, many restaurants were able to engage with consumers at home by putting together meal kits based on popular entrees and hosting digital cooking classes.

Build a Space that Serves Multiple Functions

What many restaurant owners may not realize is that they’re selling more than food, they’re selling an experience. Now more than ever, people are looking for places they can connect and environments that make them feel welcomed, whether it’s online or in-person. 

After the last few years, we’ve all learned the importance of remaining flexible. Consumers have grown accustomed to flexible spaces that cater to both their expectation of safety and cleanliness as well as their desire for spaces that serve multiple purposes.

Another area that consumers expect restaurants and food brands to be well-versed in is online orders and delivery. Your patrons want to choose when and how they enjoy your menu items, and this has never been easier than with delivery, digital ordering, takeout, and contactless payments. These methods were slowly gaining traction before the pandemic, but when travel and indoor dining were restricted people took to online ordering to get the restaurant food they craved from the safety of their homes.  

How to update your space and market yourself as a well-rounded business

One of the easiest ways to engage with your consumers and give them a place to connect is to lean into the nature of your restaurant. If you notice that the quiet ambiance of your space draws in students and professionals who are looking for a place to work, offer student discounts during weekdays or ask if you can feature them on your social media so you can speak to their peers. If you own a lively restaurant where friends and family can let loose and enjoy each other’s company, host trivia nights or live music events that will attract people who are looking to connect with others. 

For the online segment of your consumers, you need to speak to them on channels they are already using. Increase your website traffic and online order revenue by posting ads or special deals on food delivery apps and platforms. A crucial part of connecting with online patrons is to make sure your website is functional, interactive, and user-friendly.

Next Steps

We understand that marketing to the right audience and adjusting your strategies is easier said than done. That’s why we’re here to serve as your restaurant marketing experts. If you’re looking for help from someone that understands your field, can help you reach your target audience and has a knack for crafting successful campaigns with high engagement, our experienced team is ready to help you today. 

Whether you’re a local family-owned restaurant or a chain with multiple locations, these marketing tactics are foundational to every sized restaurant. Be sure to check out more of the latest insights on our website to learn more about revitalizing your strategies.