吃得值不值?淺談「價值」對當代消費者的影響

想像一下,一位饕客踏入一家餐廳,他的口袋裡裝著不僅是鈔票,還有對美食的無盡期待與對價值的精打細算。但在他決定坐下之前,有一連串的考量在他腦海中迅速閃過:這裡的餐點是否物超所值?服務質量能否讓人感到賓至如歸?最重要的是,這家餐廳能提供一段難忘的美食經歷嗎?這些問題不僅是消費者心中的疑問,也正是每一位餐飲業者面臨的挑戰。

在《A Deeper Dive》Podcast 的《Why restaurant consumers are more value conscious right now》一集中,探索了如何在快速變化的消費環境中,以創意和策略讓顧客不僅選擇我們,還再三回味。

本集 Podcast 筆記

經濟變化帶來的影響

餐飲業的經濟分化

餐飲業正面臨著明顯的經濟分化現象。一方面,擁有較高家庭收入的消費者傾向於增加在餐廳的消費頻率,這部分人群甚至在工作日額外外出用餐,或與朋友共享周末早午餐。另一方面,對於收入較低的消費群體,他們正減少在餐廳的消費頻率。這種分化反映了經濟不平等的影響,並且對於依賴各類消費群體的餐飲業來說,這是一個挑戰。快餐巨頭如麥當勞雖然面向廣泛的客戶群,但也需要找到方式來吸引和保留那些因經濟原因而減少消費的低收入消費者。

經濟波動對餐飲業的影響

經濟波動對餐飲業有著直接的影響,尤其是在消費者的消費能力和消費意願上。在經濟不確定或衰退的時期,消費者可能會減少外出就餐的頻率,並尋求更具價值的選擇。這要求餐廳能夠靈活應對經濟變化,通過調整價格策略、提高產品和服務質量,以及創新營銷活動來吸引和保留顧客。

消費者的變化

消費者對價值的看重

在目前的經濟狀況下,消費者變得更加注重價值,特別是在選擇餐廳消費時。麥當勞和溫迪這類快餐巨頭都注意到了這一點,它們觀察到低收入的消費者正削減開支。這主要是因為家庭必需品的價格上升,使得人們更傾向於在家烹飪,而不是外出就餐。雖然一些人可能認為這是麥當勞特有的問題,但實際上這反映了更廣泛的消費者行為趨勢。消費者在考慮價值時不僅僅是看價格,還包括食物的質量、服務和整體就餐體驗。這一趨勢對快餐業造成了壓力,因為即使菜單價格上漲,消費者的預算並沒有同步增加,導致他們減少了外出就餐的頻率。

價值觀的變化與消費者行為

消費者對價值的看法正在發生變化,這不僅影響了他們的消費頻率,也影響了他們對餐廳的忠誠度。隨著生活成本的上升,消費者越來越重視每一次消費所得到的價值。他們可能會尋求高品質的食物或特殊的餐飲體驗來確保自己的支出物有所值。這種趨勢要求餐廳不僅要關注價格的合理性,還要提高產品和服務的質量,以滿足消費者對價值的期望。

餐廳品牌與消費者認知

消費者對餐廳品牌的認知在他們的選擇過程中起著關鍵作用。品牌形象、產品質量和顧客服務等因素都會影響消費者的決策。為了建立和維護積極的品牌認知,餐廳需要投資於品質控制、顧客關係管理以及有效的溝通策略。透過這些努力,餐廳可以增強自己的市場競爭力,並在消費者心中建立起積極的形象。

會員制度的重要性

會員制度(忠誠度計劃)成為了許多連鎖餐廳關注的焦點。星巴克就是一個很好的例子,它成功地透過會員制度吸引了大量忠實客戶。然而,雖然這些計劃能夠提升會員的回頭率,但它們也面臨著吸引非會員的挑戰。這就引發了一個問題:會員制度是否能夠平衡吸引新客戶和保持現有客戶之間的關係,特別是當會員制度似乎更偏向於獎勵已經頻繁光顧的客戶時。

數位化與顧客體驗

數位化在餐飲業中扮演著越來越重要的角色,尤其是在會員制度和顧客服務方面。利用數位工具和平台,如手機應用程式,可以大大提升顧客的便利性和體驗。然而,這同時也提出了挑戰,例如如何保持數位體驗的人性化,以及如何處理與數據隱私相關的問題。為了克服這些挑戰,餐廳需要投資於技術和訓練,確保他們能夠提供既安全又吸引人的數位體驗。

會員制度的挑戰

雖然會員制度可以增加顧客的回頭率和消費,但它也面臨著維護顧客滿意度和參與度的挑戰。一些消費者可能會對會員制度提供的獎勵和優惠感到不滿意,尤其是當他們發現這些獎勵不如預期時。此外,會員制度的設計需要確保它能夠吸引新客戶,同時維護與現有顧客的關係,避免過分依賴會員制度而忽略了品牌和產品本身的吸引力。

消費者的期待

在許多連鎖餐廳中,會員制度成為了與顧客建立長期關係的重要工具。然而,隨著消費者期待的提高,僅僅提供基本的積分和獎勵已經不足以滿足他們的需求。消費者尋求的不僅是物質上的回報,更重要的是品牌能夠提供的獨特體驗和個性化服務。這意味著餐廳需要不斷創新其會員制度,使其更加個性化和具有吸引力,從而真正地提升顧客的忠誠度和滿意度。

餐飲業的未來取決於業者能否靈活應對市場的變化,並有效地滿足消費者的需求。透過持續的創新、有效的顧客溝通,以及利用科技提升服務品質,餐廳可以在競爭激烈的市場中脫穎而出。此外,瞭解不同顧客群體的特定需求並針對性地提供服務,將是建立長期顧客關係的關鍵。隨著經濟環境和消費者行為的不斷變化,靈活且前瞻性的策略將是餐飲業持續成功的保證。只有那些能夠預見未來趨勢並迅速適應的餐飲業者,才能在這個充滿挑戰和機遇的時代中繁榮昌盛。


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Why restaurant consumers are more value conscious right now

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Podcast 逐字稿(逐字稿為 AI 轉譯)

Jonathan Maze:

How important is value to the consumer right now? Hello, this is Jonathan Maze, Editor-in-Chief of Restaurant Business.

And in this week’s episode of A Deeper Dive, I speak with Robert Byrne, the Director of Consumer and Industry Insights with Technomic.

Robert oversees consumer surveys for the information firm, which is a sister company of restaurant business. And we talk extensively about value.

There is a lot of concern about traffic in the fast food world right now with McDonald’s and Wendy’s both saying that lower income consumers are cutting back.

McDonald’s specifically said that people are more likely to stay at home because grocery prices are much cheaper right now.

Robert and I talk about whether this is a broad problem with the consumer or if it is just more likely to hurt McDonald’s at the moment.

We also talk about what consumers mean when they think about value and why they keep spending at restaurants despite soaring menu prices. We also talk about loyalty programs.

Many restaurant chains are focused on loyalty right now, but last quarter Starbucks did really well with its loyal customers and lost business from its non-loyal customers. We talk extensively about that.

We’re talking about the state of the consumer on A Deeper Dive, so please check it out. All right, I’m here with Robert Byrne. Robert, welcome to the podcast.

Robert Byrne:

Well, thanks so much. Great to be here as always.

Jonathan Maze:

All right. So, uh, let’s talk about restaurants and value. I, there is a lot of concern right now.

You’ve probably read comments from McDonald’s CEO, Chris Kamshinsky talking about Explaining away some of his chain’s traffic challenges last quarter. You know, as we speak this morning, Wendy’s released earnings.

They more or less backed them up, but not every chain. He has had the same issues like Burger King and Taco Bell, both said, oh, what problem with low-income consumers? We have no problem with low-income consumers.

I guess my question is to you, what is your sense generally speaking of consumers and their views of value today at the start of 2024? How important is that going to be, do you think, for operators to really be thinking of value?

Robert Byrne:

It’s always important for operators to keep front of mind because you know value is one of those things that’s almost unspoken in the diners journey from sitting here at my table to you know, purchasing food or beverage at a restaurant.

The good news for restaurant operators is that it is always a sliding scale.

Because value for a birthday dinner, night out at a steakhouse, this is a very different set of data points that we as consumers either consciously or subconsciously run through.

The calculus is different for that than it is for lunch, just again, sitting here at my table. But the unfortunate truth is that, you know, people are paying more for everything,

everywhere they go, doesn’t matter what it is, it’s all more expensive than it was a year ago, six months ago, you name it.

And although we have disinflation, not deflation, but disinflation, so that rate of increase is cooling, it’s still not cooling is, you know, enough to the point where my income is catching up with it. So what does this all mean?

Consumers are thinking about value in terms of frequency more than they ever have. And this, I think, is what the industry is all sort of trapped in.

Into this spiral for traffic specifically because if value to me still sits on a sliding scale and I want what I want and I’m a consumer and consumers love restaurants,

they love restaurant food and they want to go, they just can’t go as often as they used to, as much as they want to.

And so the value proposition that a restaurant has Is it sits differently with the consumer today than it did last year or two years ago or certainly pre pandemic where it was about how can i make sure that i’m going to my favorite places for lunch once a week you know what i mean now it’s.

My gosh how can i make sure that we have in our budget enough. To do the three birthday celebrations that we have to do this month because everyone in my house is born in the same month for some reason, something like that.

So you’re doing a different set of calculations and balance sheet tabulations that you’re working on in your household.

The end result is I can’t go as frequently and if I look at how consumers State the importance of value just from a stated perspective. It hasn’t changed.

Value still carries the same degree of importance, which is it’s there, but it’s not more than it was before. It’s not more than it was last year. It’s not more than it was even pre-pandemic. It’s exactly the same.

But the impact is on frequency and that’s really where we see the industry struggling.

So I feel as though unless something significant happens, it’s a fight they’re not going to win because I can only afford to do it so often within reason, right?

And you know, if traffic is what you are counting on to grow, to grow your business, there’s only so many I can do in a week, a month, a year, whatever it is. And unless I get paid a whole lot more, that isn’t going to change.

So it’s a real, it’s a bind, it’s a bind. And I don’t know what your reaction is to that, because I said a lot, which is what I always do. But, but that’s really what we’re seeing. Consumers don’t find it more important today.

It just means they can’t go out and grab a restaurant meal as often as they used to.

Jonathan Maze:

Yeah, that’s my, you know, sort of my read into a lot of this was roughly the same. I don’t, I am not blessed with your survey data that you have.

Robert Byrne:

You need only ask.

Jonathan Maze:

But I mean, my sense of things was is generally because your point, you know, the what the you know, the big point that you made, which is that consumers like going to restaurants and that’s foundation. It is absolutely foundational.

It keeps this industry driving. It’s why consumers have been spending more and more and more restaurants as compared to of their overall food spending. And that’s been happening for ages.

It took a break during the pandemic and now it is back to where it was. But my sense of it is that they’re not going as frequently, they’re spending the same amount of money.

So they might, and I think you’ve made this point at a previous podcast, but there’s still, there might be going out less often, maybe they’re splurging more, though I don’t think they’re doing that as quite as much now.

But they’re not going as often as they probably would like.

They’re not going as often as they had done before, clearly in the fast food sector, where you do see, you know, overall traffic is down, but they’re still spending the same amount. They’re just adjusting it.

And, you know, we could make an argument, by the way, as to whether that’s actually a good thing for operators. Because you could make an argument and I know franchisees do.

They might not be as loud about it and there is a penalty that brands will pay for lower traffic.

Robert Byrne:

So they will and you get into a transaction count versus margin conversation is what I think what happens there. We know the Texas Roadhouse has very plainly said, we’ve been very happy to forego margin growth and margin health.

In the name of traffic and you know that doesn’t necessarily include extensive discounts or anything like that.

They just were able to continue to maintain what they were doing and keep that same price point and therefore value proposition in the mind of their guests. And so their traffic benefited from that.

And I would expect operators to do that, to continue to do the same thing. But if we look a little bit closer, the point that I think McDonald’s had made as well is that less affluent consumer,

that’s also clear in our data too, they are the ones that are reducing their overall frequency. Whereas those who have annual household incomes of six figures and up, actually are slightly increasing their overall frequency.

You know, if they’re back and out and about, there might be an extra lunch at a fast casual during the workday or, you know, the extra brunch with the friend on the weekend, those types of things are definitely happening.

But that’s only with that segment. It’s almost like when people talk about the K recovery from any sort of I’m economically uneven period that we go through where you know those at the top.

Are doing fine and sometimes even better in those that maybe you just have lower average household incomes are not.

And so when we talk about a brand such as McDonald’s, where we know that’s a significant proportion of their overall guest base, you’re going to see it in the numbers no matter what.

And that’s an interesting lens through which to look at value and what it means.

And particularly, I don’t know if you’re ready to get into it yet, but as it relates to the aggressive push into loyalty program membership and app ordering and things like that.

Jonathan Maze:

Yeah. Oh, I do want to get into that here in a minute, but you said something that I need to ask about. So you’re saying that McDonald’s is right, that lower income consumers are reducing their overall visits.

Robert Byrne:

Yeah, what we’re seeing is, you know, we ask this question ongoing in pretty much all of our consumer survey data and it’s specific to food service. That’s what Technomik does, food service, right?

So what we ask about is just general overall frequency and, you know, how often are folks using a restaurant? Is it, you know, A couple times a week, every day, once a week, maybe less than that.

And what we find is the percentage of consumers in that 50k and below, they’re down about like the number that use restaurants once a week or more frequently is down to maybe three percentage points compared to last year.

And it’s actually up about a percentage point, maybe two for those affluent consumers. It kind of bounces around for those in the 50 to 75 and 75 to 100 range. We talk about breaking out the segmenting the population through that lens.

But it’s noteworthy because that younger group also tends to fall into that under 50k annual household income group. And they’re the ones that really push frequency at restaurants.

Their spend per occasion may be lower because it’s just me and I just wanted to, you know, a snack or a pick me up.

And that’s what i can afford because i am earlier in my career and what not and maybe don’t have the disposable income that somebody who’s a little bit older might,

but you know it’s not just those consumers it’s pretty much all of them so you know as i said that k that people talk about in terms of economic recovery is what comes to my mind as a visual.

Jonathan Maze:

You can, I mean, honestly, we can see that in some of the numbers, you know, again, a perfect example is today, which, you know, I don’t know exactly when this one is going to run,

but at least one week ago, as people are listening to this, you know, we had Wendy’s and Shake Shack reporting and Shake Shack. Not a budget restaurant chain by any stretch of the imagination and their numbers were much better.

Um, than Wendy’s. So, I mean, and then if you look at, you know, Chipotle, Mexican grill did really well, you know, the number, you know, the brands that generally tend to serve the, the higher income market.

I mean, Starbucks, loyal consumers tend to be, you know, those folks did well. Starbucks had some problems with non-loyal customers, which we’ll talk about.

So I mean you see that in the numbers where, and again for separating out this low income group, disposable income is up, unemployment is low, people are generally doing well, some people tend to forget that,

but the economy, the problem in the economy is not that the economy is doing poorly. The problem with the economy, it’s doing too well and we’re getting inflation. And as the economy moves, generally speaking, the restaurant industry moves.

The pricing issue is something that they have to adjust with. But yeah, you can see something like that.

Robert Byrne:

I don’t think that, you know, anybody anywhere who studies economics for half a second would say what we need is some deflation because that is far more pernicious than inflation, even hot inflation.

But yeah, so it’s almost like it’s a good problem to have, you know, and it does give restaurants a little bit of that flexibility in terms of pricing power.

If they’re all now starting to focus on traffic because you know we’ve known for a couple of years coming out of the pandemic that pricing was what was giving them the ability to grow those sales numbers.

And you know that runway seems to have ended. And so now it’s down to traffic. And you know, a lot of that growth was was, you know, was was nominal growth and not real growth, so to speak. So inflation was kind of baked into that.

And and now we’re facing, you know, Some problems, at least if you are looking at restaurants and saying, how are they going to perform? I think there are restaurants that are always going to do well in this environment.

To your point, if you have a specific segment of the population that happen to be well-heeled or however you want to peg it, you’re always going to have a market that’s ready for your product and your regulars are going to stick with you.

But if you are a multi-use brand by all segments of the population, you’re going to feel it when there’s something like this happening, which is why you’re seeing it at Starbucks.

Everybody uses Starbucks, although the jokes about $5, $6, $7 drinks or what have you, they’re out there. People are very happy to pay that, self-included from time to time.

You know that’s different from say our legacy QSR brands where value is just at the core of their DNA. So it changes the value message that they want to think about from an operational perspective but also promote to those consumers.

I’ve heard a tale of the possibility that McDonald’s is considering bringing back the super size as a matter of fact, which if I think about it.

Probably no better time in the environment of shrinkflation to go and combat that by saying super size is available again. Pure rumor. I mean, it could be that I just read it because somebody said it.

Wouldn’t that be great if and it took on a life of its own. But that’s how I think consumers are looking at value these days. That’s different than it was before. Price is always going to matter, but it’s different.

I want to know what I’m getting for what I’m paying because it’s all expensive. So if you’re going to give me really high quality food, you know, or you’re going to give me something that’s specific,

like a Shake Shack, as you mentioned, or like, you know, maybe a higher end restaurant, or if you’re going to give me bang for buck in terms of quantity.

Those are powerful messages in this environment and depending on who you are as an operator, you might not be able to do both.

Jonathan Maze:

I’ve long said that in a cutback environment when consumers are actively cutting back, You’re still going to have winners. And you know, it obviously gets tougher to win and easier to lose the worse the cutback environment is.

But on balance, you’re going to have, what you get is a picky consumer. So, the consumer will go to brands that, you know, really do the job right and,

you know, that get them excited or, you know, that have, you know, just the right demographic, you know, profile and things like that.

You know, and then if you’re not doing your job well, you’re going to, you’re more likely to suffer because people are not going to tolerate poor service or, you know, weak food.

Whatever, so this is kind of an odd element of it, but we’re kind of in a rough cut back environment, certainly with a lower income consumer. And so we see that.

I guess my one question, do you have a sense that there are some brands that are having a tougher time with this lower income consumer than others or with their value equation?

Because another one of my, you know, another thing that I’m wondering if is what we’re seeing here is a problem that is more acute with McDonald’s than it is with other chains because if you look at The amount of attention being paid about this price issue in a fast food world,

which is definitely a concern of the consumer. I hear it all the time, all the time. And maybe it’s because everybody knows that I write about fast food and they feel like telling me this.

But still, um, you know, I do hear it, you know, all the time,

anytime I write something, anytime I post anything, anytime, anything, usually somebody says something about how they were at some McDonald’s in rural Florida and it cost them $15, you know, uh, for, for their meal.

And then you find out that they got a double Big Mac and a large shake or whatever. But, you know, is this a McDonald’s issue, do you think, or is it somewhere, someone else?

Robert Byrne:

No, I, unfortunately for McDonald’s, I do think it’s a bit of a McDonald’s issue. And the reason is they are, you know, they’re the New England Patriots or now the Kansas City Chiefs, right? They’re everywhere.

They always win and with good reason. This is an incredibly smart, you know, fine-tuned machine that they’re operating and they have to because the scale that we’re talking about.

But the result of that is that consumers have experiences with McDonald’s from day one. They have been going to McDonald’s since before they were aware of the fact that they were going to McDonald’s, they were being brought to McDonald’s.

And so you carry with you this lifetime of experience with McDonald’s and sort of the price bands that live around that, as well as the other things that go along with it, the convenience.

The convenience, McDonald’s is nothing if not convenient, right? I gotta say one of the things that I’ve seen coming out of some of these numbers that I’m looking at is there people are viewing them as less convenient than they used to,

which was a real surprise to me because I can’t think of another brand that’s more convenient than McDonald’s, you know, in terms of them, you know, just being everywhere that just the access that consumers have.

But as I said that constant access over the course of entire lifetime gives you a sense of what a McDonald’s meal should cost and when it doesn’t.

Then that’s when you, you know, all of a sudden feel the need to post something on social media, right? And, you know, somebody did this recently with a Taco Bell receipt that they’d found from a little over 10 years ago.

It’s about 2012 Taco Bell receipt for a particular item that now costs maybe three times what it cost when this person had acquired this receipt, making that purchase, you know, many years ago.

But, you know, those are the things that people get all sort of worked up about because it’s fun. We like to grouse as people. This is how we we connect. And so because McDonald’s is that.

Widest, greatest, deepest common denominator that we all have. They’re going to suffer from it a little bit.

Now, at the same time, I would suggest that the way that more brands, I think McDonald’s falls into this category as well, that more brands are choosing to more strategically focus their value message.

May also have something to do with this as well, because as a, you know, more casual user of a brand who it doesn’t necessarily belong to a program or have the app on my device. You know, I’m not seeing the deals.

I’m not getting the notifications that there’s a special. I’m not, you know, I’m not participating in the algorithm. All of these different things. And so if that’s also the case, remember, so everybody participates in social media,

but if you’re not in that, you know, attuned to that one channel, that’s getting you all the value based communication, information, deals, specials and all that.

Then it all just looks off kilter relative to your lifetime of experience as a McDonald’s consumer.

Jonathan Maze:

Nice. I wanted to spend the last say 10 minutes, five to 10 minutes of the podcast on this subject. So you sent me some interesting data.

And it goes to pretty much the big strategy on the part of much of the fast food world and part of the rest of it is on loyalty. And again, if you look at Starbucks last quarter, they did phenomenally well with their loyal customer.

They got more traffic out of them, they got more money out of them, their company, loyalty customers now represent 59%. 59% of all spending at their company stores, that’s insane. And it’s probably like 45% at the licensed stores.

You know, they have done such a good job with their loyal customers. Their problem was non-loyal customers.

But you also have some data to suggest that they could potentially have some issues with loyal customers down the road if they don’t, you know, they’re going to have to make sure that they’re Doing the right stuff by that group. Yeah. Yeah.

Robert Byrne:

So what we saw happening was, um, looking at specifically those, those frequent users of the Starbucks brand. And we’ve seen this with a couple of other operators as well, as they lean further and further into the loyalty program and,

and the app as the source of the deals, the, um, you know, the, the preferred interaction mechanism with, with the consumers or that preferred touch point.

Um, The degradation of scores for the quality of the program, the quality of the rewards and the points,

specifically with Starbucks, where we saw those heavy users, those that are engaged with the program are less and less enthusiastic about what that program is giving them. And you know, they’re not alone. And so.

If I kind of project out what this potentially means, you know, it leaves me a little bit concerned that there’s this Extreme focus on this one group and it is as you said it’s a significant group in a very important group that you don’t wanna monkey with but,

You know that it takes an awful lot to build that loyalty, build that equity with an individual guest and it takes very little to break that and to rupture that. It’s just the way people are, you know, and which is too bad.

They could find a new favorite place. You could do wrong by them, do them dirty at some point with something that you didn’t, you know, this particular Starbucks because it’s not a corporate store. I couldn’t use my points. That’s it.

I’m never going back. You know what I mean? Things like that. You hear of weirder stuff, right? But overall, to see that these most engaged guests for that particular brand are,

you know, Increasingly giving them high marks for that that loyalty program says maybe they need to think a little bit outside of that box and especially if you think about the fact that.

That population is always going to be smaller than the population at large. I know that, you know, it’s all frequently about trying to get one more trip out of that person that’s in your, your ecosphere.

And that’s going to be a lot easier than it is to get new people into the ecosphere. But if you are seeing attrition out of that ecosphere, and you know, the it’s not commensurate with what’s coming into that ecosphere.

And you know, because If you gotta have the app to do it, now you gotta have that app to do it, now you gotta have that app to do it and it becomes like streaming services.

You gotta have them all and then it gets to be too much and it’s just too much to manage, too expensive. So, you know, if that’s the singular channel through which people can access deals and specials and things like that.

You’re potentially cutting off a lot of additional people who may in fact grow more engaged and eventually find their way into that fold.

But it creates, this is what I was thinking about this morning, Josh, and I was thinking it creates a more significant division between the haves and the have-nots among your guest base. And that’s what I worry about.

Are you, I don’t want to say painting yourself into a corner, but You know choose your analogy.

Jonathan Maze:

Painting yourself in the corner is fine. I mean it’s a good point. And I think that the issue really for the last quarter, I mean again as I said like this is, for a lot of restaurant brands right now, loyalty is their marketing strategy.

And a lot of companies, if they start, when they start thinking, well, what is your strategy to offer value? It’s going to be, we’re going to offer value in our loyalty program. What is your strategy for getting your traffic back?

Well, we are going to build up our loyalty program. That’s actually Starbucks strategy in a nutshell. But to your point, Starbucks has 34 million Somewhere about 34 million active daily users of its loyalty program.

That is only roughly one-tenth the United States population. You know, probably more along the lines of one-seventh of the population that would actually go to Starbucks.

So you’re, you are, you are Focusing so much on your loyal customers and asking your, Loyal customers to build your business is just not a long term winning strategy.

Your business is trying to get more customers to become loyal customers and that’s probably the best.

The best overall strategy, you can’t, you know, you just, you know, and now I tend to think that with a coffee concept, those of us are so dang addicted to that stuff. And it is, as you know full well, that is the most addictive.

I mean, look at how much we’re paying. I paid $7, Robert, it was in Vegas. I paid $7 for a venti drip coffee. That’s ridiculous.

Robert Byrne:

Drip?

Jonathan Maze:

Yeah, drip. Yeah. No, I didn’t get cold foam. I got no cold foam or mocha sauce. I got nothing. I got absolutely nothing. Well, I got almond milk, so that probably cost me three bucks. But, you know, like we spend so much money on this stuff.

Robert Byrne:

Yeah.

Jonathan Maze:

The thing is my concern, like if you ask so much of your loyal customers, you know, then eventually you kind of break, you know, those, those, those customers kind of break.

And so like to me, like, and again, I generally like it, you know, loyalty marketing is great. Yeah. And it is absolutely great. And Starbucks is phenomenal at it, but you just can’t forget this other group over here.

Robert Byrne:

And it’s interesting that you mentioned that because there are some, you know, some powerful brands I don’t know of. As many in the in the QSR space and limited service space, but you don’t have to look.

Far on the full service side of things to find brands that have tried it and said. No, thanks. I don’t believe that there’s a single Darden brand that actually has a true bonafide loyalty program.

They offer deals, they offer specials, but it’s just an email blast club or something that is more like a list that you put yourself on to receive notification of this. Again, there’s no haves and have nots here.

I don’t have to spend A certain amount of money in the case of McDonald’s, I got to spend 15 bucks before I can get a cheeseburger or a, you know, a, uh, a McChicken. And that’s great. You know, that’s how, that’s how consumers want it.

It’s transactional. I spend a certain amount with you. I get something out of it. Right. Or spend 60 bucks to get a big Mac. I think is sort of how the math works out.

Um, which, yeah, I’m pretty sure it is, uh, at least as far as what I can tell based on their point system.

Jonathan Maze:

Got it.

Robert Byrne:

That yeah, you spend 60 bucks and you can get a quarter pound cheese or you know, Big Mac again, they’re using points and points are only accrued on specific items and We also know that,

you know, not all operations or locations are treated equally. I can think about the train station that is across the street from our office,

knowing that these particular chains are operated by a specific food service management company that doesn’t participate in any of that. At all. They don’t give you points. They don’t redeem points for these locations.

So, you know, again, there’s not this sort of equal opportunity that something as simple that needs zero maintenance as an email list. Zero maintenance. You just blast an email. You know what I mean? There’s no math anywhere.

There’s no program. And I mean, you know, we haven’t heard from Darden this quarter yet, I believe, but that they You know, I would suggest that they are, they just continue, will continue to be very successful.

And, you know, I think it’s sort of like a all are welcome approach that differs from that, that sort of FOMO inducing, you know, approach that that some of the loyalty programs might,

you know, you got to join, are you going to know unless you join, you got to be in, you’re in the club or what? Come on. So, I mean, I think that there does need to be a and probably is maybe we just don’t know about it as readily.

But there needs to be a strategy specifically for those that are looking for traffic growth that colors outside those lines. It’s too specific and to your point, you are preaching to the choir. Again, more analogies, right?

These are people that are coming in. And if I’m an affluent guest and I’m coming in and I’m getting a deal, maybe I would already spend that money in your location anyway.

So you’re giving stuff away to me, the affluent guest that I might be willing to pay full price for.

In exchange for a trip that I might have already made anyway, because we know again that those are the consumers that tend to participate in the programs more so than those less affluent consumers.

So, you know, maybe there’s no additional benefit from a loyalty standpoint. To doing it this way.

It’s just all these questions that, you know, and again, I’m happy to share with you some of the numbers that I’m looking at to come up with these bold statements.

But, you know, the truth of the matter is, I know that it’s an effective way to get the message out, but I also know it may potentially be an effective way to, you know, to kind of push certain guest groups away.

Jonathan Maze:

Right. Yeah. Well, and we might’ve seen that with Starbucks last quarter. Robert, this was wonderful. Really appreciate you joining me on the podcast.

Robert Byrne:

Always a pleasure. I thank you for having me.

Jonathan Maze:

And that should do it for this week’s episode of A Deeper Dive, which is edited, as always, by Spoons, artwork by Nico Hines.

You may find this and other episodes of the podcast on our website at www.restaurantbusinessonline.com backslash article backslash deeper dash dive. You may also subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

I’m Jonathan Maze, your host, podcast producer and the editor in chief of Restaurant Business. Thank you for listening.

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