Some interesting purchase insights to note:
In early summer 2017, restaurant traffic for independent
restaurants shows year-over-year trip growth of
8.1 percent and only 1.6 percent for national chains.
During the 2016 holiday shopping season, independent
restaurant trips grew 8.3 percent year-over-year,
while national chains witnessed a 2.4 percent yearover-year
The reversal in trend of independents catching up with
chains is best exemplified by looking at the trip index over
two years. During the holiday season, the scales are tipping
in favor of Independents as the index gap narrowed in 2016
reflecting a YOY surge in independent trips and decline in
chain trips. See graph above.
Why is independent winning? Here are three reasons
that could be causing diners to go independent to satisfy
The Ever Sought Review
In the age of the internet, word-of-mouth marketing is
an extremely powerful tool for creating brand awareness.
Be it social media, a blog, or a review site, consumers now have more tools than ever to help restaurateurs spread their
brand. But, chains usually get the short end of the stick of
this marketing tool. People are generally more willing to
review the “darling, hole-in-the-wall” they discovered than
the chain restaurant that everyone knows about. Consumers
like feeling like they’ve uncovered a secret. And, furthermore,
they like to spread that secret. They are less willing
to take the time to write a review about a ubiquitous brand.
The Demand for Locally Sourced
In recent years, restaurant consumers have become increasingly
conscious about the food they consume. From locally
sourced, to farm-to-table, consumers want to feel good
about what they’re eating, AND, they want it at a low price.
This position is more easily winnable by independents,
who can buy local and serve farm-to-table because they are
local. Additionally, for consumers, the meal they’re being
served at an independent restaurant feels more homemade,
with more attention paid to it. And, in some cases, it is.
With independents, owners of the establishments are able
to be more hands-on, overseeing every meal that is served.
With chains, the owner has to rely on each location to serve as a proper brand ambassador, which often means commercialized
Precise Target Marketing
Chain restaurants, with big marketing budgets, tend to opt
for large scale advertising that is broader, trying to reach
everyone. Independent restaurants have to be more scrupulous
with their smaller marketing funds, opting for
approaches that are more targeted and precise, like using
purchase intelligence to reach consumers that are most
likely to dine with that brand, based on their actual purchase
There are plenty of articles that offer independent restaurants
tips on how to compete with chains. However, based
on the insights we see from our view into consumer purchases,
we think it might be time chains start adapting tips
from independents’ targeted marketing playbooks.