Why Use Digital Signage In Restaurants
If you operate within the hospitality sector, you may have queried whether you should be using digital signage in your restaurant, cafe, pub or food outlet.
We look at some of the most common food trends and how you could use digital signage to take better advantage of them and increase your profitability.
Alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages
Research by ‘Lightspeed’ on 2022 beverage sale trends on amongst restaurants, bars, cafés, and hotels, found that the categories with the highest growth in sales were cocktails, wines, and coffees. Premium non-alcoholic drinks like mocktails also saw a significant growth in sales. This suggests that there’s a real opportunity to sell more of these premium drinks, if you can market them correctly.
When it comes to beverage marketing in restaurants, attention often tends to be focussed on selling spirits and beers. The marketing of cocktails, mocktails and wines tends to ‘play second fiddle’ and be restricted to simply having a printed menu that customers need to ask for, which rarely contains detailed tasting notes.
Because digital signage gives you so much more promotional space, you can give other beverage categories a much higher profile and tell customers the details about them that are most likely to result in a purchase.
Use digital displays to show off the most compelling tasting notes of your most expensive wines alongside a product image– e.g. “The flavour profile of our Ribera Del Duero: blackberry, cassis, plum, red berries, vanilla, spice. Our sommelier says ‘Stunning wine and great value for money’”.
Consider whether you can pair the notes with a specific meal item – e.g. “Our pinot noir is from the Burgundy region. Our sommelier says ‘medium bodied with oaky forest floor overtones and pairs perfectly with our beef casserole dish’”.
Similarly with cocktails and mocktails, rather than focussing purely on promoting happy hours, you can group types of cocktail together -e.g. “try one of our three aperitif/after-dinner cocktails” or give customers much more information about individual cocktails – e.g. “Try an espresso martini like no other” or “Feeling adventurous? Why not try the cocktail that one Trip Advisor reviewer described as ‘the best cocktail I’ve ever had’”.
According to another piece of research, 13% of under 35s tend to opt for non-alcoholic drinks when they go out, so don’t forget to create content to whet your tee-total customers’ appetites too, making your mocktails feel more like a luxury than an inferior drink option. This will steer people away from your cheaper, less profitable alcohol-free drinks options.
Whilst coffee isn’t necessarily considered a premium drink, the more luxurious you can make it sound, the higher the price-tag customers will be prepared to pay. Treat your hot beverage customers as coffee connoisseurs, and list information about the regions your coffee was harvested in and the blend and/or the flavour profiles available.
Sandwiches, Wraps, And Salads
The same research by Lightspeed also found that the menu items discovered garnering the most sales traction amongst consumers in the USA were relatively healthy, convenience foods like sandwiches and wraps.
Whilst the UK market is obviously different to the US, the rapid growth and popularity of the Subway franchise in the UK, suggests that it’s clearly not a food trend to be ignored.
As these food items tend to be lower budget items, it’s important to upsell it as part of a meal package to maximise your profits. Because it gives you so much promotional space, digital signage allows you to show food photography with animated text as a video, enabling you to show different up-grade and mix & match options, positioning the upgrade as the standard purchase rather than the stand-alone item. Gluten-free options can also be highlighted too.
Whether your establishment is a budget restaurant, fast-food outlet, a pub, or cafe, digital signage can be to emphasise the quality of the ingredients used in your meal items – e.g. free range, organic, locally-grown/reared – thereby giving you the opportunity to maximise your purchase price.
The Vegan Market
Another consumer market identified to have experienced significant growth in recent years is the vegan market.
As of 2022, 4% of the UK population identifies as vegan, an increase of 1,500% since 2014. In fact, it is forecasted that the value of the vegan market to is set to grow from £3.9bn in 2019, to £6.6bn by 2025.
Products which are expected to generate the most sales are meat-substitutes and diary-substitutes. For instance, sales of imitation meat are predicted to grow in excess of £1.5 billion by 2027, whilst plant-based milks like oat and soy are predicted to grow in excess of £0.9 million
What’s more, the plant-based food and beverage market is not exclusive to vegans. Reducing overall meat and animal product consumption is a phenomenon recognised amongst wider portions of the population, with 1 in 3 Brits having done so. The popularity of Veganuary is further evidence of this trend, with global participation having increased by over 5,000% since 2015.
Vegetarian and vegan diets are most popular amongst the 18-35 age bracket. In one survey, 43% of Generation Z adults indicated that they planned on cutting out meat in 2023.
Despite the growing popularity of plant-based diets, it tends to be an afterthought on food menus with most food establishments having only one or two vegan-friendly items.
As it such a challenge for people following a vegan diet to eat out, there is a huge opportunity for cafés, pubs and restaurants with a genuinely good offering to put themselves on the vegan map and attract a loyal following.
Because of the flexibility digital signage, a restaurant can showcase a dedicated vegan menu alongside a core offering of meat and dairy etc. food items – either alongside each other or in rotation. This ensures that it doesn’t dissuade its carnivore customers, but establishes itself as a destination for vegans too.
Using digital signage to highlight vegan products during Veganuary, is a great way to draw in customers who are perhaps more novice to the vegan lifestyle, and who may be looking more expressly for marked options.
Because the younger demographic is more likely to be vegan, it’s a significant opportunity for businesses in areas with a high student population.
The Health Market
What the expansion of the vegan market also reveals, is a growing emphasis on healthy eating. Associated health benefits are cited by 40% of vegans as the most important factor behind their diets. Such health concerns appear universal, with 62% of the general population claiming that they ‘actively try to eat healthy’.
With the new calorie labelling guidelines introduced by the government in 2022, consumers are now coming to expect nutritional information like protein, fat, and calorie content, salt and sugar, to be displayed on menus in every establishment, not just those compelled by law.
The flexibility of digital menu boards means that nutritional information, plus dietary requirement information (e.g. contains nuts, halal, gluten-free) can easily be added.
There is significant opportunity for businesses to establish themselves as a healthy eating venue. Not only is it a growing market, health-conscious customers are more likely to return on a frequent basis to places with a decent offering, as their food products can be considered part of a balanced diet rather than a ‘naughty treat’.
Digital signage – whether a poster-type display or a menu board – can give more prominence to product information, for example if it can be counted as ‘one of your five-a-day’. It can also highlight healthy-add ons, such as a side salad or vegetable-based soup.
Cross-over between the health market and the beverage market also presents the possibility of showcasing healthy drinks such as juices and smoothies, which carry a premium price-tag.
Additionally, digital signage is ideal for presenting narrative content like videos which showcase how the establishments’ food items are made in kitchens. Visual narratives are often better remembered by customers and can reassure them that foods they order will not be processed/contain preservatives.
Another trend that is emerging within the hospitality consumer market, is a focus on ‘the ethical food market, which is now worth £122bn in the UK alone.
Digital menu boards or posters can easily communicate ethical consumption information, such as using fair-trade accredited products, or information concerning your supply chain, like which ingredients are locally sourced.
These trends present multiple opportunities for restaurant/pub businesses able to capitalise on them.
Whilst it’s hard to be ‘all things to all people’, using digital signage in restaurants does give you the opportunity to shout about what you are doing more effectively, and to communicate more than one message at once.
This is especially important because these trends don’t aren’t isolated. You can be a teetotaller, who is concerned about the ethical treatment of animals in meat production, and prefers organic food. The more positive information you can give your customers about what you sell and how you operate, the more likely you are to make it clear who you’re ‘for’ and then win loyal customers who love what you do.
If you’d like to learn more about digital signage in restaurants, pubs, cafes or food outlets, just drop us a line.
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