Sharp marketing needs proper segmentation of consumers, deep understanding of their needs and brilliant delivery on the frontline, CGA Peach’s Consumer Insight and Marketing Conference heard on Thursday (6 April).
The sell-out London event featured some of the sector’s most renowned marketers and entrepreneurs, including Leon and London Union co-founder Henry Dimbleby, who said marketing was nothing without good operations. “You can do all the loyalty work you want, but if the food doesn’t taste great it won’t matter,” he said. ‘If your offer and experience is good enough for people to share [on social media in particular], then you don’t have to do the marketing any more—your customers will.”
He was talking on a Conference panel with experts including Wagamama’s head of digital and loyalty Andre Johnstone, who agreed that marketing starts on the restaurant floor. “Loyalty isn’t just about a scheme, it’s about all the touchpoints a customer has with your brand… the delivery and consistency.” Wagamama is building systems to improve its visibility of its customers, he added. “We start with the consumer and try to understand him or her as best we can.”
The third member of the panel, Pho’s head of marketing Libby Andrews, emphasised the need for marketing and operations teams to work closely together and make sure all initiatives can actually be implemented. All new projects need to be closely aligned to their brands, she added. “It shouldn’t be about introducing something just because it’s new and trendy... it’s important to stay true to who you are as a business and a brand.”
Elsewhere at the Conference, chef and Temper founder Neil Rankin and the Jamie Oliver Media Group’s chief content officer Zoe Collins came together to discuss food trends and consumers’ rising food literacy.
Rankin said more and more people were aware of the quality and provenance of the meat they eat, and reckoned restaurants should be sure they understand their demands. “It’s not about giving people what you want them to eat, but what you think they would like to eat.” He played down the importance of food trends in eating-out, and said good food was timeless.
Collins agreed about the need for brands to trust gut feel. “We try to match insight with instinct… if we were just driven by data we would never do anything new or evolve.” Working out how to implement marketing ideas is the biggest challenge of all, she thought. “The toughest bit is doing things with the insights you get… changing processes and mindsets is really hard.”
Implementing insights was also the theme of a Conference session from Sue Grist, marketing expert and founder of the Egremont International consultancy. Operators shouldn’t be afraid to make big changes to their brands, she said. “When something isn’t working, be bold, because incremental changes can just make it worse.” Teams also need to make sure that digital activity is totally embedded in marketing work, she added. “Some people still think of digital or social as a thing… but it’s actually a whole way of thinking, being and doing.”
The Conference also heard from a trio of CGA Peach experts. Vice president Peter Martin opened the event with an overview of a market still brimming with ambition despite mounting property, people and food costs. Drawing on CGA Peach’s Business Leaders’ Survey, he pointed to the plans of many businesses to open new sites and make acquisitions—though with the Coffer Peach Business Tracker showing like for like sales growing at below the rate of inflation, any sliver of market share will be hard won. “We’re working in a market where there’s no intrinsic growth… it’s getting tougher and tougher for operators,” he said. ‘We’re seeing confidence coming back… but there should be caution, and there is.”
CGA Peach director Jamie Campbell contributed a vivacious tour of drinks trends to follow in 2017, including the growing popularity of artisan coffee, premium spirits, sparkling wine and batch cocktails. He pointed out opportunities to grow soft drinks sales, plus the link between good drinks ranges and brand loyalty. But he advised brands to resist the temptation to over-stock on drinks and risk overwhelming drinkers with choice. Instead, pubs, bars and restaurants should play to their strengths, understand their guests’ needs and do the simple things right, he advised.
Campbell also flagged up the still soaring popularity of craft beer. But in conversation with Peter Martin, Charlie McVeigh, founder of the Draft House pub group, suggested the term was misleading and over-used. Operators like his are doing nothing new, he said—just serving good beer in comfortable, friendly pubs. But sticking firmly to such a simple idea and mission has helped to create a personality for the Draft House. “That germ of an idea is so important,” McVeigh said. “The brand isn’t just the sign on the door—it’s the whole culture of the business.”
CGA Peach’s senior account manager Chris Jeffrey was meanwhile joined by We Are Spectacular founder Mark McCulloch to unveil important new consumer segmentation research tools. Developed by CGA Peach with the help of BrandTrack research and data showing consumers’ stages of brand adoption, it splits people into ten groups—like ‘Trending Tastemakers’; people who like to visit new restaurants and will promote them on social media; ‘Carefree Dolce Vitas’, health-conscious, risk-averse and relatively affluent; and ‘Family Pit Stoppers’, groups who want convenient and good value food on the go. The research will help marketers to deepen their understanding of customers’ journeys and how their brands are perceived, Jeffrey said.