Recent research from the NPD Group reports that families with children younger than 13 seriously cut back their dining out habits when the economy crashed in 2008. Full-service restaurants were the segment that took the biggest hit, and supper was the meal that took the greatest loss.
These families, like most of us, started pinching pennies when finances got shaky, but now that the economy is in recovery, and spending is on its way back up, a quarter of those same families are still holding back. How can FSRs reclaim this valuable demographic?
Children are big decision-makers when it comes to dining. Figure out how to match what they are looking for (Fun? Avoidance of broccoli? More cheesy pizza?) with what the parents are looking for (Value! Nutrition!) and you have a recipe that will keep them coming back for more!
- Turn slow weeknights into Mother-Son/Daddy-Daughter date nights and offer one free kids’ meal with the purchase of an adult meal.
- Turn Saturday or Sunday evenings into an opportunity for Mom & Dad to celebrate their kids by offering a free double-sized dessert with the purchase of an adult meal and a kids’ meal.
- Turn Friday nights into date night for grownups and offer free dessert to share while the kids are with a babysitter. Make sure you remind them about your great kids’ menu so they will come back with the kids on a weeknight!
- Create a tween menu (11 to 13 year olds) with food that’s cooler than the kiddie menu, but in portions that are a bit smaller than the adult menu.
Keep brainstorming with food ideas, service concepts, special offers, or entertainment ideas and spend the summer experimenting with ways to bring families out to dine with you!