Recent research has suggested that many casual dining establishments aren't capitalizing on the growing Hispanic consumer market. U.S. Census Bureau data indicates that the Hispanic population in the U.S. grew to 53 million in 2012, up 50 percent from what it was in 2000. Several fast-food chains and some big-name casual dining restaurants have catered to this growing population by advertising in Spanish and customizing their food merchandising efforts to reach this target audience, but many casual dining operations haven't yet followed suit.
If you're looking to expand your restaurant's services to the growing Hispanic market, consider these tips to make your marketing efforts a success.
Expand your digital marketing efforts
According to research conducted by Univision Communications Inc. and Burke Inc., Hispanics have a smartphone penetration that's 10 percentage points higher than the rest of the population. They're more likely than non-Hispanics to use their smartphones to access a restaurant's app, search for a restaurant and check in through apps like Foursquare. Therefore, it's in your best interest to make sure that your restaurant is well-represented online and by smartphone apps. Create an engaging website, make profiles on social media sites and consider developing an app with games, contests or special offers.
Make room for bigger parties
The research found that Hispanic parties typically consist of one extra person than non-Hispanic parties. This is partly because 63 percent of Hispanics visit casual dining restaurants with children, whereas only 33 percent of non-Hispanics do. To make sure that your venue can accommodate these extra people, you may need to invest in more commercial restaurant equipment. There should be enough commercial kitchen supplies, dishware, seating and food itself to account for extra patronage.
Additionally, it's a good idea to advertise heavily for holidays, celebrations and social occasions, which are some of the top reasons why Hispanics visit casual dining restaurants. Aside from traditional U.S. holidays, increase your marketing efforts toward graduations, birthdays, work events and sporting events.
Prepare for more dessert and drink orders
The research showed that Hispanics typically order more items – particularly desserts and alcoholic beverages – than the rest of the population. You can take advantage of this by increasing your dessert and drink offerings, updating your bakery equipment and revamping your food marketing efforts to focus on these items. Consider offering a happy hour to promote specialty drinks like margaritas or pina coladas, or offer some type of deal that highlights a dessert dish.
Consider adjusting your hours
Early morning meals and late-night dining were found to be important to Hispanic consumers, who appreciate when casual dining restaurants are open very early and very late. To appeal to these preferences, you may want to alter your venue's operating hours. Even opening an hour earlier or staying open an hour later can be enough to boost interest in your restaurant.
Offer carry-out options
The research also suggested that Hispanics are more likely than the rest of the population to buy carry-out items to eat at home or at work. Therefore, it may be in your best interest to give consumers this option. A separate entrance to the restaurant along with a few designated carry-out parking spaces can make the process of picking up a meal easier for consumers. Restaurant and bakery packaging is also an important investment that will ensure that the food items make it to their final destination intact.
Whether your casual dining restaurant takes one or all of these efforts into account, there's no doubt that the Hispanic population will notice and increase the amount of visits to your venue.
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