Nearly one in two women (43%) are considered the primary or secondary decision maker in deciding which restaurant to patronize, according to Microsoft Advertising. A man asking a woman out on a date will base his selection around her eating preferences. The mom determines which restaurant will best appease her children. Husbands dutifully check with their wives before ordering take-out. If women aren't happy, there goes the joy of the experience.
Even with women possessing so much influence over restaurant selection, the vast majority of these chains do not specifically market to women diners (see spotlight on pages 2-3).
Lack Of Women-Specific Outreach
Chains, including Ruby Tuesday, Applebee's and the Outback Steakhouse, make a direct effort to reach men by building programs around their sports offerings. Ruby Tuesday's, for instance, recently introduced a new division to its loyalty program "So Connected Club," that emails exclusive offerings geared to specific sporting events based on its member's preferences. Outback Steakhouse sponsors college bowl games and golf tournaments.
The military is also another core constituency to which casual restaurants reach out, with several dine-in chains, including OSI Restaurant brands' Outback and Carrabba's Italian Grill, offering families special deals and discounts.
The primary casual restaurant marketing efforts targeting women are programs that reach mom by addressing their children, through birthday clubs and activity kits. There's also a shift to focus on healthy kid menu offerings to ease moms' concerns over their children's nutritional habits.
The lack of outreach to women is based primarily on the fact that the key attributes that drive consumers to restaurants--value, quality, and convenience--are all gender-neutral.
Chains' primary outreach channels--TV and print--are rooted in the traditional realm and focus on attracting the largest number of eyes as possible, rather than narrowcasting a message to a specific group.
Plus, one of the most important factors to women--clean bathrooms--isn't easily marketable during a 30-second TV spot. The lack of messages specifically for women also may be because these chains stick with what works. "We certainly learned the importance of television advertising and we did make a slight shift at Red Lobster into digital from television and we learned that that is probably premature," says Darden Restaurant's Clarence Otis.
With men typically spending more than women per dining experience, it makes sense for restaurants to target the more profitable guest.
While there is a lack of general women-specific outreach, women are influencing a few general shifts. Women, for instance, are the primary drivers for the growing number of lower-calorie, healthy dish offerings. (Nevertheless, a recent Applebee's TV ad promotes this seemingly women-specific offering by showing a man proudly ordering a diet item in front of his group of male friends.)
Restaurants are also promoting fresher, locally sourced products, which typically appeal more to women than men, says Melissa Abbott of the Hartman Group. Women also prefer to see employees cooking their dish, a request restaurants are responding to by creating more open-air kitchens. "They also like the customizable. They want to know their meal is being made exactly the way they want it," says Abbott. Philippe Houston, a newly-opened upscale restaurant in Houston, has installed a camera in the kitchen so its guests can see the food being made.
Nevertheless, it seems causal restaurants are missing a huge opportunity in not specifically reaching out to women.
Women and men may both seem to value convenience, but women also have distinctly different eating habits and preferences. Women enjoy sharing their individual dishes with their group, so restaurants should emphasize a more communal eating experience.
Men enjoy the more rambunctious environment, especially when watching sports. Women prefer a more subdued room that allows them to leisurely converse and linger.
Restaurants could promote a tasting menu that unfolds over several hours or host cocktail hours that specifically serve drinks women prefer.
Likewise, chains could promote to time-strapped moms how restaurants are able to serve their families a quick, but nutritious, high-quality meal. [FOOD/BEVERAGE/ADVERTISING]
TOP SOURCES WOMEN RELY ON FOR INFORMATION ON RESTAURANTS
2. Casual acquaintances
3. Ads in newspapers/radio/TV
4. Product reviews on (non-company) websites
5. Stories in newspapers/radio/TV
SOURCE: Harbinger Ideas
The Family Tech Expert
Moms are most likely to claim they know more than their children about digital cameras and laptops than videogame console and smartphones, according to About.com. See page six for more on what influences moms to purchase electronics and computers.
PARENTS WHO SAY THEY KNOW MORE ABOUT THE SELECT TECH GADGETS THAN THEIR CHILDREN Moms Dads Digital camera 74% 78% Laptop, netbook 69% 74% HD camcorder 56% 63% Blu-ray player 49% 65% eBook reader 54% 52% 3D TV 45% 58% Tablet computer (iPad) 45% 57% Smartphone 43% 55% Game console 19% 50% SOURCE: About.com, Harris Interactive Note: Table made from bar graph.
WHAT INFORMATION WOMEN SEEK FROM RESTAURANTS
1. Get opinions or references from other guests
2. Determine what is the best quality
3. Determine what is the best value
4. Learn what's best for them and their families
5. Confirm selection
SOURCE: Harbinger Ideas
spotlight on dine-in restaurants CHAIN POINTS OF DIFFERENCE Applebee's/IHOP * Applebee's showcases under Dawn Bullen 550-calorie meal options affiliated VP Marketing with Weight Watchers to appeal to 913-967-4000 weight-conscious diners. firstname.lastname@example.org www.applebees.com * IHOP focuses on "Come hungry, leave happy." IHOP for Me provides options to meet nutritional and dietary needs. * National ad campaign highlights stories about neighborhood with friends and families enjoying meals together. Brinker International * Reintroduces Chili's Caribbean includes Chili's, Maggiano's, Salad based on consumer feedback Romano's Macaroni Grill Ian interested ina light, fruit salad;. Baines 75% of its menu items have a new SVP Strategic Innovation recipe, ingredient, or complete 972-980-9917 overhaul. email@example.com www.brinker.com * Developed a three course promotion at Chili's and revised its menu moving from 12 to eight pages. * Advertising taglines include "Big Mouth Bites" and "Bottomless Express Lunch." * Chili's branded "crazy bandz" rubber bracelets sold out in restaurants in 30 days and helped to raise $5.6 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. * Notes that sales are higher in the summer months and lower in the winter months. California Pizza Kitchen * Reaches mom through her kids via Sarah Grover CPKids Restaurant Tours, 310-342-5000 complimentary VIP passes to www.cpk.com high-achieving students, and CPKids Birthday Club. * Branded frozen pizzas are available in 20,000 locations in 50 states. * Says sales are higher during summer months. * In mid-2010, launched the Thank You Card Program distributing 2.7 million cards to consumers dining at a restaurant. The cards ranged from 10%-off a meal to $25,000. Darden Restaurants * Relies primarily on TV advertising includes Red Lobster, Olive for its brands; Longhorn Steakhouse Garden, LongHom Steakhouse, is solely focused on cable. The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 John Caron Chief Marketing Officer 407-245-4000 firstname.lastname@example.org www.darden.com * Finds menu orders are not impacted by disclosing calorie counts. * Red Lobster introduced several new $15 dishes and a VIP service initiative delivering more personalized service to its guests. These guests are less affluent than overall casual diners so the chain is refining its marketing messages to address affordability, while also refreshing the brand. Average check totals $19. * Olive Garden supported its Never-ending Pasta Bowl and Passion for Cheese promotions with national Spanish-language advertising. But chain went from 18 weeks of value-oriented price point advertising in 2009 to 10 weeks in 2010. OSI Restaurant Partners * Limits service to dinner. includes Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, and Roy's Restaurant Anna-Marie Zazzero 813-282-1224, x1053 email@example.com www.osirestaurantpartners.com * Focuses on men through sports events and sponsorships. * My Outback Rewards awards members free menu items, experiences such as tickets to college games, and branded merchandise including the Heineken bottle opener. Perkins Family Restaurant & * Says sales are strongest during Bakery October-December due to holiday includes Marie Callendars traffic and seasonal pie sales. Cheryl Ahilbrandt EVP Marketing, Research, Development 901-766-6400 www.perkinsrestaurants.com * Perkins average guest check is $8.88. * Marketing messages focus on showcasing specific products, such as Marie Calendar's pies. Red Robin * Key demographic includes Susan Lintonsmith high-income women; runs ads on EI, SVP/CMO USA, and the Food Network, as well 303-846-5440 as online at CafeMom. firstname.lastname@example.org www.redrobin.com * 7% of its food sales come from kids menu. * Guests dine an average 37-42 minutes with a total $11.42 check; one-third of guests generate 65% of business. * Averages more guests under 18 than the casual dining average (31% vs. 16%). * Introducing new and limited-time offer menu items. * Marketing centers on TV spots, online digital media, and direct mail with coupon promos. Ruby Tuesday * Advertising focuses on "providing Dan Dillon the ultimate $25 high-quality SVP Brand Development casual dining experience for $15." 865-379-5700 email@example.com www.rubytuesday.com * Relies on digital and magazine outreach to target consumers; spending $4 million in 2011-12 to achieve these goals. * Brand enhancements include petite plates, additional Fit & Trim entree selections, the three-course Sunday Brunch, and expanding the variety and freshness for its salad bar. TGI Friday's (Carlson) * Introduces allergen supplementary Trey Hall menu. SVP/CMO 972-662-5400 firstname.lastname@example.org www.fridays.com * Promotes value priced multi-course meals such as 3 Courses for $16.99. * Give Me More Stripes loyalty program provides discounts, free products, and exclusive benefits to its members. * Promotes products tied to specific events, such as Cinco de Mayo, Mardi Gras, and St. Patrick's Day. SOURCES: Companies, Marketing To Women research.
CONTACTS AND CONNECTIONS: Harbinger Ideas, Deborah Adams, SVP, 252 Adelaide St. E, Toronto, ON M5A 1N1, Canada; 416-960-5100; email@example.com; www.harbingerideas.com.
Hartman Group, Melissa Abbott, Director, Culinary Insights, 3150 Richards Rd., #200, Bellevue, WA 98005; 425-452-0818, x114; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.hartman-group.com.
Microsoft Advertising, Robin Domeniconi,VP U.S. Advertising Sales, Publishing & Marketing, 1290 Ave. of the Americas, 6th Fl., New York, NY 10104; 212-245-2100; advertising.microsoft.com.
See pages two and three for additional contacts.…