Restaurants are presenting a value message to connect with potential guests concerned with rising costs and inflation.
David Portalatin, NPD Food Industry Advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America, said there are three ways consumers are responding higher menu prices: they trade down to lower-priced items; cut back on the number of items ordered; or reduce restaurant visits altogether.
“Restaurant operators and manufacturers can win in this environment by differentiating value, understanding that value doesn't always translate to the lowest price,” he advises. “Quality and value become a critical differentiator when consumers spend on a restaurant meal during these challenging times."
Seated surveyed 50 of their top partners based in New York, Dallas, Boston and Atlanta to get a deeper look at how inflation has impacted their businesses – and how they are responding to it.
The most common methods used to increase foot traffic and sales:
- Create a loyalty program
- Increase in specials and promos
- Stronger digital presence with new websites, promotions on delivery platforms and social media, and thank guests via social media
- Host more events, happy hours, and live music
- Encourage catering and delivery
Here are just a few examples of campaigns based on value that have been or are being offered at restaurants.
Uno Pizzeria and Grill is offering $5 off dine-in orders through August 31. Consumers can use this savings to pay for the gas it takes to travel to the restaurant for a dine-in visit.
“We hope to give away the equivalent of 100,000 gallons of gas during this time with this discount,” said CEO Erik Frederick. “We understand that people are really feeling the prices at the pump. We want to provide a savings so you can pay for your gas to make it easier to dine in with us to enjoy our amazing pizza and other great dishes. Enjoy a great meal, save some money and apply that money to the next time you fill up the tank. Every bit helps in these challenging times.”
New York-based Mighty-Quinn's Barbeque made the unusual decision drop prices on their most popular meat samplers. Co-Founder Micha Magid noted the restaurant chain felt it was an important decision to invest in their loyal customers, who continue to get squeezed financially on all sides. The restaurant group hopes their nine-percent decrease in prices will provide customers with more affordable meal choices.
In July, some Bertucci’s locations offered “inflation relief” with a limited-time menu that cuts prices by as much as 75 percent—a throwback to Bertucci’s 1980s origins. For a limited time in July, prices are rolling back to the '80s with a special menu of classics, available at all Bertucci's restaurants for dine-in guests.
"Our throwback pricing offer is our way of showing our gratitude to all the communities that have supported us over the past 40 years," said Robert Earl, Founder of Earl Enterprises and owner of Bertucci's. "These are challenging times for so many, and it was important for the Bertucci's family to do something to offer a bit of relief—and this throwback menu should help. Guests can come into their local Bertucci's and enjoy a meal, our fabulous rolls and dessert without breaking the bank. Just our way to say, 'thank you all,' and here's to another 40 years!"
Nashville-based O’Charley’s started an Economic Stimulus Package with a suite of various discounts, promotions, and deals to help those guests and families suffering economically in the current climate. An Inflationary Discount offered a percentage off on a guest’s next online order based on the previous month’s Consumer Price Index calculation. Since May’s calculation ended at 8.6 percent, guests were given a discount of 8.6 percent off their next online order in the month of June. This deal will run periodically based on CPI calculations.
Taco John's is revamping its ValuEST Menu by adding its biggest taco yet, the Grande Beef Taco for only $3.
“When we launched our ValuEST Menu, we wanted to bring our guests quality food made with our fresh, premium ingredients all for an amazing value,” said Taco John’s Chief Marketing Officer Barry Westrum. “Since then, we have continued to bring exciting new items to the lineup that have the bold flavors and quality ingredients our guests come to us for, but at a price that will make satisfying your taco craving even easier on your wallet.”
In response to the continued economic pressure felt by people across the U.S., Bob Evans Restaurants is expanding its American Values Platform. The new “Sunrise Savers” Breakfast menu features nine of Bob Evans breakfast dishes, like the Classic Breakfast and Country Biscuit Breakfast at four tiered price ranges from $4.99 – $7.99.
“At Bob Evans, hospitality isn’t just about serving delicious, farm fresh food. It’s about actually taking care of our guests and giving them great experiences,” said Bob Holtcamp, President and Chief Marketing Officer for Bob Evans Restaurants. “The best way for us to do that is to make them feel good about the choice to dine with us at a time when families are looking for ways to get more for their dollar. Our new Sunrise Savers Breakfast menu and our entire American Values platform is our way of making it easier for them to enjoy the simple pleasures in life like dining out with friends and family any time of day or night.”