A recent survey by Consumer Edge Insight says a good portion of chain restaurant customers frequent those establishments because of a good selection of properly priced alcoholic beverages.
If there were one bit of information independent restaurant operators could use in their struggle against chains, that’s it.
Not only do many independents have better bars, they have better selections and more skilled bartenders. They have neighborhood ambiance that attracts loyal patrons and they typically can get away with charging a tad more than a chain—something they need to do remain profitable and competitive against chains’ volume-purchasing power.
The survey results, reported by NBCNews.com, pointed to Buffalo Wild Wings as the best at working this angle. Its promotional efforts reflect this nicely and concisely: “Wings. Beer. Sports.” We’ll feed you, “water” you and show you games while we’re doing it. A largely affordable but simple experience, just what Americans want from most restaurants.
Indie ops fight similarly, but their moves often lack finesse. Vinyl signs screaming “2-1 Bud Light” say only “me, too,” not “we’re doing something different, come see.”
Is there a craft beer special you can offer?
A house-specialty cocktail—sorry, no Cosmos, tasty as they are, they’re out of style—you can offer for a deal on certain days?
As the survey’s results imply, patrons do like consistency, but they like it to be a bit different than what’s in the fridge or on the shelf at home. If it’s not different, then why would they leave the La-Z-Boy to pay triple the cost for the same thing at a restaurant?
This also stands out from the “Wings. Beer. Sports.” tagline from BW3: The experience marketed is exactly the experience you get. It’s billed as advertised.
This is not a white tablecloth restaurant promising a dissonant experience of party in the bar, serious eatin’ business in the dining room. Nothing reeks of desperation like an upscale restaurant offering 2-1 apps and half-price wine all week.
Those operators must do something alcohol-centered but contextually appropriate, such as wine flights, bourbon tastings, craft gin or craft tequila specials, something intriguing that implies, “You don’t have these on your shelf at home, so come let us introduce you to them. We promise, it’ll be fun!”
Survey says, “It’s all about the booze,” but reality says that booze has to be unique, different and interesting enough to go buy away from home.
A good independent operator can do that as easily as any chain operator.