How and Why Zero Party Data Should Drive Restaurant Marketing 

Marketing a restaurant looks completely different today than it did heading into 2020. The pandemic forced restaurants to completely transform how they operate, which naturally impacts how they interact with consumers. Not only are marketers in the restaurant space facing the fallout of the pandemic, they are dealing with the implications of ever-increasing privacy concerns. 

The privacy landscape underwent numerous changes in 2020 and will continue to evolve into 2021. Let me walk through a few of these changes. Apple has announced plans to restrict its IDFA (identifier for advertisers) in 2021. This will require developers and publishers to obtain permission from users prior to using the mobile ad ID for ad tracking. Back in November, California saw approval of another privacy law intended to add more protection and safeguards over specific types of data as well as for minors. On top of new restrictions and legislation, consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about data privacy. In a survey we conducted earlier this year close to 40 percent of respondents said they were not comfortable with brands using personalized ads or cookies. The writing is on the wall, gone are the days of relying on cookies and third-party data to reach consumers.

Operations have shifted to a more digital experience. A majority of restaurants have shut down in-person dining and are relying more heavily on online orders and delivery. Many consumers are reluctant to return to in-person delivery and continue to opt for contactless delivery options. It’s clear that not only have data practices changed, but so has customer behavior.

If cookies and third-party data are not viable options for restaurant marketers anymore, the question becomes how to move forward. 

Be Driven by the Right Data 

It starts with zero-party data. If you are unfamiliar with the term, now is the time to learn. Zero-party data is any data a customer chooses to share with a brand in some sort of value exchange. Data should be driving your marketing strategy, but it’s going to require a shift from traditional marketing practices that rely on buying ads or posting on social media. It’s all about building a direct connection to your customer. Try offering a discount in exchange for some of their information. The consumer gets a discount and you get relevant data.

Find the Right Channels 

Loyalty programs aren’t new by any means, but a shift to zero-party certainly highlights their importance. As I said, a value exchange is a core part of zero-party data. Restaurants must consider how they can best offer this value to their customers. Pizza chain &pizza, was able to double registration for its loyalty program by making a switch to a frictionless sign-up. They removed hurdles for customers wanting to sign up and start earning rewards. This is a great example of a brand meeting its customers where they are. One of the best places to meet your customers is in their email inbox. In fact, email addresses might be on the most important data points you hold. Email gives you an opportunity to communicate directly with a customer, build a relationship and offer value in exchange for data. Leveraging email is a great starting point. 

Truly Personalize 

With the foundation of zero-party data and finding the right channels, marketers can truly begin to personalize. Personalization is at its core about making a connection between brand and customer (or the prospective customer. Data can and should be used to foster the relationship. Bloomin’ Brands is a great example of how to effectively use data for personalization. They leveraged data from their customer interactions to drive messaging and as a result, they tripled their off-premise sales. 

It’s been a difficult year for the restaurant industry. Customer behavior has changed rapidly and it continues to evolve. The marketers that put zero-party data at the core of their efforts are set up for success moving forward. So move on from third-party data, leverage a multitude of channels and begin turning these insights into action.