How to increase restaurant’s income: native advertising and promotion by means of display window – design ideas, examples, technical and economic assessment
How to promote a restaurant? How to make a resultative advertising and prevent your budget from running out? What methods of promotion are there at all? Is it possible to bring new customers over and over again, having invested once?
Thousands of restaurateurs question themselves about it. That is natural enough: each restaurant owner wants all spots in the restaurant to be occupied. That’s when a major problem occurs, following current sensitive issues.
Many restaurants owners use advertising or branding agencies to keep up with the times. In order to meet the demand, the agencies often suggest classic, but expensive means of promotion: advertising in the internet and social networks, advertising via aggregators, mass activity, integration of fast booking systems, or even development of mobile apps. All are aimed at “recognizability”, “long-term outlook” and “status”. No guaranty, of course.
A logical question follows: is it worth promoting a restaurant this way at all? What’s the point, commercially-wise? These kinds of activity result in dozens, and sometimes even thousands rubles every month, but cost recovery happens far from always. Moreover, the result strongly depends on agents’ experience, and is very risky.
By this article, I would like to tell about non-typical, but very efficient Japanese way of catering establishments’ promotion. I will also show illustrative examples of efficient and not expensive method of local promotion of a restaurant, considering severe competition, but minimum expenses.
Why do we rely on Japan and Japanese restaurants’ experience
I want to answer this anticipated question in advance: why do we analyze exactly Japanese model of restaurant promotion. It’s simple: population of the limited territory of Japan (tenfold less, than the territory of Russia) is 130 million people (it’s just ~15 million less, than population of Russia), and there are hundreds thousands of restaurants. Competition is enormous; struggle for customers is very severe. For example, it is only Tokyo, with over 14 million citizens, that has more than 80 thousand catering facilities. Comparing with Russian megalopolises, like Moscow, it is way harder to open a restaurant and engage customers in Tokyo. In other words, if restaurant promotion in Moscow is a hard task, in Japan it is a true challenge.
Japanese restaurateurs use internet advertisement extremely rare. It is expensive and, as a rule, not efficient. Instead, they focus on capturing attention of passers-by. Which is logical: there is no point in focusing on people from the internet, when every person, passing by a restaurant is a potential visitor, or may even become a regular customer, with luck. Especially, when people’s daily route goes by the same catering facility, for example, on their way from work or study. It is also common sense to work with passers-by, rather, than trying to increase attendance of your website, so that people would book tables in your restaurant.
Speaking in the language of advertising, Japanese restaurateurs have shifted the focus and narrowed the scope from “getting anyone possible from the internet” to “engaging as many passers-by as possible, by means of display window”. It also makes sense, since the second way requires way less investments. Moreover, restaurateurs invest only once, and it works constantly, steadily, and with no additional costs. From the point of aesthetics, it is always nice to improve and decorate a display window or a facade. And it would be nice to know that it is very profitable too.
Just think about it: implementation of this way of advertising resulted in increasing income of lots of restaurants within 300%, for it influences several crucial indicators at once: visitors’ conversion, average bill and even repeat purchasing. Let’s study closer the working principle of this marketing instrument.
A principle of bringing new customers by means of a restaurant display window
Japanese restaurants capture people’s attention by decorating their display windows with silicone food models. Those are artificial copies of real food, served in the restaurant. See how it looks like.
It is typically a glass display window (in a restaurant window or in a special box). However, not always. Many depends on an outlet location. For example, if the space is limited, or there are no windows, some restaurants replace display window with a table and decorate it with the most popular menu items. The table is placed by the entrance, to be noticed by the most people, passing by the outlet. See an example of such table, located by one of the restaurants in Tokyo.
This type of restaurant advertising meets several vital goals at once. First, it brings people’s attention to the display window; those people, by the way, like to take photos by a table and post them in social networks, which makes an excellent native and, on the top of that, free advertising.
Second, silicone models of food and drinks look like real food (including fleck of light on sauces, bubbles in drinks, texture of beer foam, etc.), so they stimulate people’s appetite right away. As a result, after a display table was set, the number of visitors in the restaurant increased to 60-70%. It is only to mention weekdays.
Third, meals on the table are the most expressive advertising of the menu, literally 2 in 1. People see the assortment and price, and, having a chance to calculate their expenses in advance, they will most probably choose your restaurant. Moreover, if hungry people see delicious meals, they order more, which increases your average bill.
Food models in a display window is also a very convenient service; customers like it pretty much. You get a perfect tool to distinguish yourself from competitors, especially if there are several outlets within one location.
So, it turns out that a single display window meets lots of marketing goals. The most remarkable about it, is that investment for a display window is a single action, whereas its effect is constant. In average, an outlet income after the display window is set, increases to 250-300%, depending on which day it is: a weekday, or weekend.
Some more examples of restaurant display windows design
Income increase within 250-300% is an average indicator, because places with significant turnaround may have way better increase. Mid-range prices outlets show greater increase of income: family-type and chain restaurants, national cuisine restaurants (Japanese, Italian, Chinese, etc.), and cafes, fast food courts, etc. Due to their cost-effectiveness and efficiency, display windows with food models became the most popular type of advertising for the most catering facilities.
In Russia, this type of advertising is just beginning to gain its popularity, but even now, it is clear, that those restaurants, which have display windows, decorated with food models (to make them noticeable), have more visitors.
How much does it cost to arrange a restaurant display window
Occupied tables and income increase is good, but the main question remains: how much does this type of advertising cost, what is cost recovery term, and is it more profitable, than, for example, advertising in the internet? Let’s count it for a big Russian megalopolis. By the example of Moscow.
It is worth mentioning, that different promotion agencies have different price lists. You can also hire freelancers. But in average, a complex internet promotion of an outlet with, say, 50 visitors per day, will be 200-300 thousand rubles per month. Pricing for bigger outlets may be up to one million per month, but we won’t focus on them. We’ll take the minimum. And, of course, we don’t consider numerous mobile apps.
Attendance of such restaurants (according to internet statistics) increases to 10-20% in average, i.e., to 250 visitors per month, as a maximum. Altogether, by the most optimistic forecasts, we get 1500 visitors per month. In the long term, for example, a year, promotion expenses will be almost two and a half million rubles.
Now, let’s consider promotion by means of food models in a display window. Average price of one silicone food model is 10 000 rubles. Let’s take 20 models, as a minimum for a display window. There may be less models: after all, setting matters, We’ll take 20 as an “average minimum”. So, we have 200 000 rubles on the models only. Which is a one-time investment.
Development and decoration of a display window (design, shelves, accessories) will cost about 200-300 thousand rubles. In total, budget for this marketing instrument is 400-500 thousand rubles, which is equal to 2 months of internet promotion.
Now, let’s count visitors and expenses on bringing them to the similar outlet. According to Japanese marketing specialists’ statistics, a display window with food models increases number of restaurant visitors to 40-60% from the day one. It is often more, depending on location of an outlet, however, we count the minimum for illustration purposes.
Attendance increase to 40% gives you +500 visitors per month. Which is twice more, than the result of successful internet promotion campaign (as long, as it is supervised by qualified specialists). At the same time, yearly expenses on bringing new customers are 6 times less. Can you imagine a 2- or 5-years timeline?
We have counted only one parameter – increase of attendance. If we add the other indicators, which are also increased if food models are used, namely: increase of average bill, turnaround of one spot, etc., we’ll see, that a display window is way more efficient and reasonable indeed.
On top of that, in case of internet promotion, the ending of promotion campaign will involve reduction in number of visitors and outlet’s income. Whereas a display window continues working after installation, like an eternal engine, with no additional investments. That kind of promotion you get.
Let’s combine all data in tables to illustrate the above:
Promotion in the internet
Promotion by means of a display window
|1 month||200 000||200 000|
|2 month||200 000||200 000|
|3 month||200 000||0|
|4 month||200 000||0|
|5 month||200 000||0|
|6 month||200 000||0|
|7 month||200 000||0|
|8 month||200 000||0|
|9 month||200 000||0|
|10 month||200 000||0|
|11 month||200 000||0|
|12 month||200 000||0|
|Total||2 400 000||400 000|
It is not only efficiency, that differs, but price as well. Unlike non-substantial advertising, food models are physical objects. They remain with you for years (if materials of high quality are used). By the way, you can reduce expenses on food models, if you buy, for example, 10 of them, instead for 20, just for the main dishes, the “driving force” of your menu. The rest of display window space may be filled with designer decorations. There are many options.
Materials for food models for a display window
There are three types of materials for food models for display windows: silicone, plastic and gypsum. They differ in price, appearance and sustainability. Japanese catering facilities use only silicone models, for, first of all, they look realistic and are able to bring new customers and increase sales. And second, silicone models are more sustainable, long-standing, and have a useful life of over 15 years, unlike their plastic or gypsum counterparts, which have to be replaced every 2-3 years.
See and compare: silicone pizza model on the left, and gypsum one – on the right. Pay attention to similarity of the real dish and the model, the technique of details glueing, and vivid colors. Which model, to your mind, stimulates appetite and encourages to buy fried eggs with bacon right away?
Compare characteristics of models, made of different materials
We have considered some illustrative examples of a non-typical way of restaurant promotion. It has just begun gaining its popularity in Russia and CIS states, however its results can already be compared to the ones of Japanese restaurants.
Unfortunately, one article is not enough to describe all aspects of manufacturing process and display window design, so I plan to issue a series of articles. Until then, should you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section, or contact me. I will answer your questions and show an example of a display window design, which will be useful exactly for your scope.
Nippon Dom factory director
Visit Commercial Page for more information and food models photos.