Today’s modern restaurant is serving up dietary preferences for every diner

Shopping or dining out for my household is typically met with a variety of challenges due to food allergies—dairy and gluten sensitivity. I am always on the lookout for alternatives and I’m excited to see that it’s not only the grocery stores who are accommodating special dietary needs.

Not only have grocers embraced new and different food types, but so have restaurants. Restaurants are taking dietary needs into consideration as they continue to personalize the food types available to their diners and are offering options such as plant-based and gluten-free.

Today’s global alternative meat market is valued at $3.8B and is expected to grow to $6B by 2023. With all the food allergies (gluten, dairy, nuts, etc.) and consumers who are self-identifying their preferred food types (vegan, vegetarian, etc.), this alternative food market clearly is on the rise.  

Today’s restaurant marketer is prepared to capitalize on this new market and data is key in achieving success.

Let’s further explore.

The role of data in dietary preference personalization

We’ve all heard it multiple times: Consumers prefer personalized communications—and experiences—and restaurant marketers need to focus on speaking to customers on a 1:You personalized level.

1:You is a holistic customer experience strategy that focuses on personalizing communications with the best choice for individuals across all touchpoints or interactions. Data is necessary to communicate 1:You.

Oftentimes, as marketers, we focus our planning around customer acquisition. While acquiring new customers should be a goal for all, it’s important to identify your best customers and then find lookalikes.

And to accomplish this, the intelligence is derived from the data.

With our data solutions, we’re able to identify your customers and perform analytical modeling to help you find specific customer segments, like those with special dietary preferences. From our TotalSource Plus restaurant propensity models, we’re able to segment (locate) customers who are, for example, breakfast dining enthusiasts and vegetarians.

The intelligence derived from our data is able to inform restaurant marketers of six key pieces of information:

  1. How much your customers are spending with you versus competitive brands.
  2. Who are your highest potential customers.
  3. Whether a loyal customer has stopped buying versus stopped transacting with your brand.
  4. Your most valuable customers’ brand preferences in other categories.
  5. How much and how frequently customers spend in your category.
  6. Deep insights into your customers to enable more relevant messaging.

This helps the restaurant who’s offering ‘alternative breakfast sandwiches’ (with a plant-based patty) find the right consumers who will want to dine with them and try this specific menu item.

Brands in action

Speaking of ‘alternative breakfast sandwiches’, our client of Dunkin’ recently introduced their Beyond Sausage breakfast sandwich, which substitutes the meat-based patty with a plant-based one (Beyond Meat).

And there’s been a lot of interest in this new menu offering. Based on the success they’ve had testing the breakfast sandwich in the New York market, Dunkin’ soon plans to expand the Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich nationwide.

Additionally, Baskin-Robbins, the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty shops, is also dipping into the plant-based dessert category with the launch of two new non-dairy flavors. Both non-dairy ‘Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough’ and ‘Chocolate Extreme’ will be available for ice cream fans in-store.

Final thoughts

As you continue to evaluate your marketing programs and think about these newer segments, remember to do your research and conduct continuous testing.

For example, in relation to the ‘alternative food type’ segment, understanding how this segment of customers interacts outside the restaurant industry is telling. For example, what is their preferred grocer, what food items do they purchase for home, and so on?

Your customers are focused on finding alternatives due to their dietary preferences and will be ever-so-thankful to you for accommodating their preferences.