How to capture the family crowd
According to The NPD Group’s CREST® foodservice market research, the return of families to the foodservice industry accelerated in 2016, growing at twice the pace of 2015 and bringing the volume of family visits to a three-year high. The research shows this return has particularly benefited QSR traffic growth, while other channels are expected to see a rise in family patronage in the near future.
Looking at the broader foodservice market, operators and manufacturers need to re-assess their menu offering to become more relevant with the family demographic. Some foodservice outlets claim that making a venue child friendly may increase traffic up to 25 per cent, so how can you take advantage of this trend?
Parents of young children are not hard to please. Basically, all they need is to get in and out quickly without hassle, having an enjoyable meal in the process while their children are relaxed and engaged. As long as the food is of reasonable quality, parents will actually pay a premium if everything else works as it should.
With this in mind, we take a look at the simplest ways to make your venue kid friendly and to boost your profits.
The most obvious place to start is the menu. You need to ensure you have items on the menu that are going to keep children happy. This can be limited to simplify the ordering process and should include a mixture of classics (burgers, mini pizzas and fish and chips) and some more ‘adventurous’ options that will keep the parents happy (mini stir fries with vegetables, tacos or fruit-laden pancakes).
Next up make sure you have enough high chairs, booster seats and space around tables to unload and store prams. A good option is to have a ‘kid friendly’ area where tables and chairs are optimised for families, keeping another area for closer-quarters dining.
If you have the menu and furnishings to make family visits easy – the next step is how to minimise disruption to other childless diners. Here, it is important to note that smartphones (and wifi) are the new crayons. Where restaurants and cafes used to rely on crayons and colouring books to keep kids engaged and quiet during a meal, smartphones and tablets are now taking over. This is great news for venues - all you have to provide is a good wifi connection and there will be quiet and calm.
NPD Group’s research also uncovered that delivery and pick-up meals reached their highest point since the research began back in 2009. This shows a trend towards people opting to eat in the comfort of their own home – something that families may be more inclined to do after a long day. Restaurants that make their menu available as take away are opening up their offering to a larger market of ‘at home foodies’ that don’t want to miss out on small luxuries now they have children.
Although often overlooked in any marketing efforts, families hold huge potential for increased profits for any venue. Instead of leaving the profit boost to the QSR outlets, restaurants and cafes, it would be smart for other foodservice providers to consider the points above and see if they can attract more of the family crowd to their tables.
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / CREST®, Annual 2016