BusinessDay

Aesthetics driving traffic to restaurants

Times have changed and not just in terms of technology but also in the demand for restaurant spaces. A few years ago, consumers used to “sneak” into restaurants to host business meetings and order a meagre N200 bottle of water. Today, consumers are trooping to restaurants to take Instagram worthy pictures while barely ordering any item on the menu.

Millennials are changing the game for restaurant marketing through their increased demand for pleasurable experiences in addition to products. Creating an experience-based atmosphere is crucial as millennials tend to be brand loyal and do not mind spending a significant portion of their income on good food and a great ambiance. Restaurants must be willing to fit their lifestyle into the aesthetics, customer service and product offerings.

The term aesthetics means different things to different people thereby making it is impossible to proffer a specific formula on how to achieve the appropriate look and feel that will be attractive to customers. It could be in terms of the design and layout of the restaurant, the signage, lighting or even food design. Whilst the key product i.e. good food remains relevant, the success of restaurants and brunch spots in Lagos is often determined by the aesthetic appeal as well as the number of picturesque spots.

Economics of aesthetics

Meeting the aesthetic demand is often expensive and time consuming but in the end the revenue prospects could be well worth it. It also offers effective and far reaching advertisement benefits. In today’s social media age, restaurant marketing is not as popular on radio and television as it is on Instagram and Snapchat. Restaurants are relying more on User Generated Content (UGC) to promote their brand. This involves customers using photos, testimonials and videos to promote a brand. Curating user generated content can be done using short and engaging content on social media platforms, blogs or sites such as TripAdvisor. Effective images are often used as a tool for creating said content. In other words, letting the picture do the talking.

Besides the revenue generation and marketing advantage, the aesthetic mandate provides other economic benefits including:

Branding: A beautifully designed restaurant is great but having a unique aesthetic feature as a crowd puller is better for branding purposes. In modern lingo, each restaurant must have its selling point. A few examples of how restaurants have branded themselves include the popular restaurant with the pink car filled with flowers at the entrance, the lounge whose slogan is “Visa Free Greece”, the restaurant with a swing in their backyard or the restaurant with the inscription “You are exactly where you need to be”. In a highly competitive market, a unique feature does wonders for distinguishing a restaurant from the crowd.

Customer service: Before customers walk in, they probably already know the picturesque spots at a restaurant. However, they are more likely to post the picture on their social media platforms provided they receive satisfactory service. This means that look and feel must be complemented by excellent customer service rather than override it. Picture this, two social media influencers walk into a restaurant for a working lunch and are less than impressed with the look and feel as well as the customer service. Can you imagine the reputational damage this will have on said restaurant? Remember, they are not called “influencers” for nothing!

Healthy competition: The race is on for which restaurant can pull the largest crowd using a combination of aesthetics, customer service and a great ambiance. There is now increased competition amongst restaurants and cafes to gain traction online with the intention of luring customers into their premises. Economists teach us that competition can yield improved efficiency and productivity, better quality as well as more choices and variety.

Opportunity for the value chain: The process of putting together a pleasurable experience for customers involves employing the services of experts. From the real estate developers, interior designers, artisans and others all play a vital role in the project. The gig economy including influencers, graphic and web designers, social media managers amongst others are also benefitting from the increased need for restaurants to showcase their products on social media.

 

TEMITOPE OLUGBILE

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