What Retailers Can Learn From Restaurants

Using Big Data analytics to analyse social media conversations often shows some interesting insights. This happened when we compared retailer marketing messages with restaurant marketing messages and how consumers talk online about both. The critical difference? One word: experience. This is important as retailers find in-store sales slumping while restaurants, bars and the like are finding an increase in sales. In the UK in 2015, restaurant visits were up 11% over retail store visits. Similar results are being seen in Canada and America.

The Experience Is The Product
Pictures of delicious, colourful food along with some choice words evoke some powerful emotions in people. Restaurants market an experience. That experience entails not just the ambiance of the location, but the taste of the food, presentation, service and being there with people we want to spend time with (hopefully.) The product is the experience. In retail stores, the experience has largely gone away. The product is what hangs on the rack.

The Retail Marketing Message
Many retailers do aim to market an “experience”, most notably with fashion. Yet our research found that 43% of Canadian women find retail shopping to be boring when by themselves and 37% to be boring when with a friend or two. The highlight of their shopping experience, they say in social media, is having a snack or beverage break. Retailers focus heavily on pricing and the physical product they want to sell.

The Restaurant Message
When it comes to leveraging social media, restaurants are very good at communicating an experience. Images of food, connected with an eating establishment indicate social interaction. Retailers it would seem, don’t convey this message.

The Retail Store Un-Experience
The data also showed that only 18% of Canadian women and 14% of Canadian men, enjoy a retail store experience. The primary reason was customer service, followed by uninspired interior design. 64% of shoppers find aisles too crowded and stores messy. 19% of women find the music too loud. We have more insights coming in our October edition of the Big Data Consumer Omnibus.

Retailers Should Visit Restaurants
If retailers are looking for inspirations to boost sales, perhaps a visit to a few trendy restaurants would be in order? Retailers should look at how restaurants are creating their messages in social media. Cross promotions could also be an option. Canadian consumers are looking for an “experience” when they’re out buying. Right now it seems, they aren’t finding that experience. 

What do you think? Are you a retailer?