From Consumption to Connection: Restaurant Promotion Trends for 2024

At the beginning of the year, we like talking about trends. They seem like anchors for the new year. Trends create frameworks to understand where to start and what to focus on.  I want to highlight trends in restaurant promotion for 2024. We will discuss how to build customer communication and what aspects to prioritize to make your establishment stand out and thrive.

Trend One: Offering Ready-Made Solutions for Customers

In today’s world, restaurant operators face guest attention deficit. This issue is primarily associated with the overwhelming amount of information that surrounds individuals today, demanding their attention.

To deal with it, restaurants need to offer ready-made solutions for customers. Many guests do not want to analyze and make decisions themselves; they want the restaurant to think about their needs and provide the best solution.

How can you achieve this?

Identify the consumption situations most commonly implemented by guests inthe establishment. 

Let’s look at some of them:

  • relaxing with a cup of coffee
  • ordering food home
  • strolling with a drink in the park
  • holding a meeting
  • hanging out with friends in the evening
  • going to a concert
  • taking photos for social media.

The main goal is to clarify why people should choose your establishment, how they can utilize your products, and what benefits guests will gain from visiting. A social media presentation is crucial. For example, consider a post idea: “You can order your morning takeaway coffee in our cafe.” Although the concept seemssimple, the way you present it matters.

Let’s look at two examples.

The first post features a photo of two stylish girls with the caption, “Running late for classes, yearning for coffee, and eager to discuss yesterday’s news with a friend? You no longer have to choose. Drop by our cafe with a friend, grab your morning coffee to go, and share all the news on the way to the university.Furthermore, now you can enjoy a 50-percent discount on your second beverage.”

Another option portrays a young man working on a laptop with the caption, “Caught between projects and no time for morning coffee? No worries. Stop by before work, pick up your coffee, and savor it on the way to the office. Don’t forget about your colleagues; they likely don’t have time for morning coffee either. Since we’re all about teamwork, we’ve prepared a great offer for you—enjoy a 50-percent discount on the second coffee to go.”

These two posts appeal to different audiences, although the idea is the same -ordering takeaway coffee from the establishment. It’s crucial to create each post for a specific audience, considering their consumption situation. The post should resonate with the reader, prompting them to say, “Yes, this is about me,” and inspiring an immediate decision to visit your restaurant.

This is crucial because failing to do so will result in even the most wonderful post simply scrolling by in the feed without engaging the audience. It’s essential to not only convey the consumption situation but also to highlight its significance, emphasizing the benefits that customers will receive.

Trend Two: Increasing the Importance of User-Generated Content (UGC)

UGC serves as social proof and is more effective than direct advertising. People tend to trust other people’s reviews more than the content from a restaurant itself. This is quite logical because other people appear unbiased, and their reviews seem objective. 

Another point is the sense of belonging to a group and experiencing UGC. For instance, someone shares a photo from a coffee shop on social media. In the photo, there is a cappuccino, cheesecake, and laptop; the interior of a light coffee shop in a minimalist style is partially visible. The moment a potential guest looks at that photo on social media, it ceases to be just content. The picture becomes part of the user experience shared by the guest. The imagination automatically adds the music, immerses itself in the atmosphere of the establishment, and then the person decides whether they want to be a part of this vibe. They subconsciously place themselves in this atmosphere and see how comfortable they are there. This serves as a demo version of a guest’s visit.

There is one more point. User-generated content isn’t just about social media; it’s also about the content that guests send to each other on messengers or even show photos offline. The channels may be different, but the essence does not change. User-generated content is the virtual word of mouth for your restaurant.

Effectively using UGC creates a context in which a restaurant is recommended by the community. This naturally fosters additional trust in the establishment, even among people who have never visited this particular restaurant before.

Trend Three: Using Omnichannel

The story of choosing one communication channel and actively promoting the restaurant there will be less effective. It is crucial to create a customer journey map and understand through which channels a guest can potentially learn about your restaurant, how they make a decision to visit the establishment, and what factors influence this.

Based on the customer journey map, conduct an analysis, and draw conclusions about which communication channels will be most effective for a specific customer segment. 

Today, a restaurant should be present on all channels where its target audience is active—not just people in general but specifically your potential guests.

Some decide to visit a restaurant through social media, some with the help of review sites, others by studying the website, and some when they find information about the restaurant on Google My Business, etc.

For some, a restaurant’s online channels are not so important—what is crucial is the opinion of friends and acquaintances about the establishment. However, even in this case, guests might decide to get a first impression of the restaurant through an online platform.

The main thing is to understand where your potential guests are looking for information about restaurants and how this process occurs. After this, analyze how fully your restaurant is represented on each of these channels. If there is not enough information, fill in the gaps and start promoting the establishment there.

Trend Four: Giving Back to the Local Community

Your city, street, and local community are your superpower. Restaurants that become more than just places where customers can eat, acting as full-fledged platforms for the community, will receive a lot of benefits. It is time to become significant part of the local community’s life. 

Let’s explore some ideas on how you can implement this in your establishment:

  • Support community farmers and suppliers by sourcing ingredients locally, contributing to the growth of the community’s economy.
  • Participate in local events, such as festivals, quests, fundraisers, or sports tournaments.
  • Host cooking classes for local residents, sharing culinary skills and knowledge.
  • Implement eco-friendly practices, such as reducing waste or using sustainable packaging.
  • Host concerts featuring local musicians or exhibitions of local artists in the establishment.
  • Dedicate a month to supporting a specific local charity, sharing information about their mission and how your restaurant contributes.
  • Create a community cookbook featuring recipes from residents and local chefs.
  • Partner with local businesses and organizations.

Additionally, it is beneficial to showcase on your restaurant’s social media that it is an integral part of the local community. 

Consider implementing these content ideas:

  • Share old photos of your restaurant or its location throughout the years, along with historical details.
  • Showcase your staff members engaging in volunteer activities and share their personal experiences.
  • Conduct interviews with local food bloggers, influencers, or chefs, discussing their favorite dishes at your restaurant and their thoughts on the local food scene.
  •  Introduce your staff members, focusing on their ties to the local community, and highlight their favorite local spots.
  • Tell customers interesting historical facts about the community and encourage engagement with local history quizzes.
  • Share photos or videos of local artists whose work is displayed in your restaurant. This will help you position the restaurant as a platform for creative people in the community.

It is essential not only to contribute to the life of your local community but also to communicate this properly to customers. This will help you shape a fresh customer perception of your establishment—where they feel part of something beyond a mere eatery.

Trend Five: Becoming an Expert in Your Topic

In today’s world, just serving delicious food is not enough. It is beneficial to become an expert in your field. At first sight, this trend mostly relates to establishments with a pronounced main product, such as coffee shops, vegan restaurants, pizzerias, establishments with Italian, Japanese, Indian, or any other kitchen, fish restaurants, steak houses, pubs, etc. However, it can be successfully implemented in restaurants with a diverse menu. The main goal is for your establishment to be the first that comes to mind when a person thinks, “I want coffee/pizza/Japanese food, etc.” 

This will help you not just stand out among other establishments but take a special place in a customer’s mind. This may sound challenging, but with proper work, you can achieve this in your city.

Let’s explore three ideas that will help you with this goal.

1. Host thematic city events.

In the previous trend, we talked about participation in local events. Here, I propose you become an organizer of an event. 

The main thing is that it should not just be some random event but one related to your topic, for example, Barista Championship, Latte Art Festival, Vegan Food Expo, Pizza Festival, etc.

In this case, you stand out among the other restaurants participating in the event because you are the organizer. You are not afraid of competition; you are committed to the development of the industry and your product, which works well for the image of an expert.

2. Conduct regular thematic events in your establishment.

These are smaller events for your customers. It is beneficial to host them weekly. I will provide some examples so you can easily grasp the idea:

  • Conduct nutritional seminars. Bring in experts to discuss the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle.
  • Organize pizza-themed nights showcasing a variety of pizzas worldwide.
  • Collaborate with local breweries to pair different pizzas with craft beers for a tasty and educational experience.
  • Arrange a coffee-tasting event.
  • Host a workshop where participants can learn to decorate cupcakes with professional techniques.

3. Adjust your social media strategy.

Add posts on expert topics. It is important that customers find out the information about your main product from you. Become an educational platform in your field for them.

What can this be?

  • Create a post on different pizzas and their features.
  • Discuss the latest trends in the coffee industry and your thoughts on them.
  • Address frequently asked questions from your audience.
  • Encourage your audience to join a thematic challenge and share their experiences.
  • Debunk common myths about your main product.
  • Working on an expert image will significantly benefit your business and help you increase trust in the establishment.

All these trends are directed at establishing a deep connection with your customers because, at the end of the day, this can truly make your restaurant a special place for your guests.