When it comes to receiving marketing communications from restaurants, consumers prefer traditional methods to digital channels, finds the National Restaurant Association (NRA) [pdf] in a May 2012 survey sponsored by LivingSocial. Consumers were asked to what extent they would welcome various forms of marketing communications from restaurants. A restaurant coupon in a coupon booklet topped the list, with 80% of respondents indicating this to be either very or somewhat welcome. Following were a brochure or menu sent in the mail (73%), an ad in a local paper (73%), and an ad on TV (68%). An email from the restaurant topped all digital means, at 67%, followed by a website for a specific restaurant (61%), and an email via a daily deal provider (57%). A social media post was the least popular among respondents, with just 39% welcoming this form of marketing communication.
Survey results released in May by Market Force find more consumer responsiveness to restaurants on social media. According to those results, American respondents were more likely to have liked a restaurant page (86%) on Facebook than an entertainment (76%) or retail (75%) page.
Responses Differ by Age, Gender
Meanwhile, according to the NRA report, consumers’ receptiveness to these various forms of communication varied quite significantly by gender and age. Of note, women were more likely than men to welcome all forms, with the most significant percentage point disparities being for an email from the restaurant (74% vs. 59%) and a brochure/menu left on the doorstep (61% vs. 46%).
Breaking the data down by age, there was more variety in response. 18-34-year-olds were least likely to welcome a brochure/menu from the restaurant in the mail or an ad in a local paper (each at 68% vs. the 73% average). However, they were most likely to be receptive to rewards programs (61% vs. the 56% average), and ad on the internet (59% vs. the 53% average), and a social media post (53% vs. the 39% average).
Coupons Rated Most Effective
Data from the NRA report indicates that consumers find coupons (in a booklet) to also be the most effective form of marketing communication. When asked the effectiveness of the various methods in terms of encouraging them to learn more about a restaurant, 86% rated a restaurant coupon in a coupon booklet very or somewhat effective, just ahead of an email from the restaurant (84%). A restaurant coupon was also rated most effective in terms of encouraging adults to consider going to or ordering from a restaurant (85%) and in terms of encouraging them to actually go to or order from a restaurant (84%).
Operators’ Communications Usage Differs from Customer Priorities
It appears that restaurant operators are not reading their customers’ priorities, well. The report also included a survey of restaurant operators, and found that social media posts were the most commonly-used form of marketing communication in the past 6 months, at 69% of respondents, despite them being the least welcome by respondents. 58% had participated in a coupon booklet, while 56% had emailed consumers and 53% had placed an ad in a local paper. And even though consumers appear to welcome brochures and menus sent in the mail, only about one-third of the operators surveyed said they had sent one in the past 6 months.
About the Data: The NRA/LivingSocial data is based on 2 surveys. An online survey was fielded in February 2012 among a nationally representative sample of 1,064 adults living in private households in the United States. C+R Research fielded the survey from February 20-23, 2012. A separate survey was fielded in February to March 2012 among a nationwide sample of restaurant owners and operators. Survey Sampling International fielded the survey via telephone, and a total of 425 interviews were completed during the period February 21 to March 2, 2012, excluding weekends.