Restaurant Marketing Strategies for 2022

By Josch Chodakowsky


Restaurants suffered greatly at the hands of COVID-19, when only take-out could feasibly be an offering. Add staff shortages, supply chain issues, rising inflation, and gas prices to that blow, and one can see that restaurants have not had an easy time regaining their footing.

With the pandemic mostly behind us, consumers' pent-up desire for dining out has increased, and despite the other setbacks the industry is facing (such as supply chain shortages), restaurants are seeing a resurgence, as QSR magazine recently reported. The struggle is not over yet, however, and an agile approach to marketing a restaurant's brand is key to success.

Some approaches include utilizing technology (such as QR codes), cross-channel promotion to increase awareness, use email to promote special offers, and be transparent about changes. Mark Mirkil, VP of marketing at Personica, emphasized how important empathy has been in a time of rapid change, stating at an ANA event, "With COVID, we had a lot of clients who needed help being able to push out messaging that was more empathetic and transparent about how the business was adjusting to the new changes and protocols and the new realities of the pandemic."

Moreover, Carrie DeMallie, senior marketing manager at Black Bear Diner, added that the best way to grow a subscriber base was "to present a really great offer and maximize every touchpoint. For instance, we use a QR code on the placemats that we have in-diner, which makes it very easy for people. We've also put a fair amount of budget into our social campaigns for lead gen."

The resources below look at some strategies restaurants can take to help their recovery.

13 Creative Restaurant Marketing Ideas That Will Bring in More Customers. Lyfe Marketing, June 2022.
Marketing your restaurant can sometimes be tricky in today's digital world. You need creative restaurant marketing ideas to draw customers in and keep them coming back for more. But before you can dive into marketing to your audience you need to define who they are.

This step is crucial before you can begin marketing with your creative restaurant marketing ideas because without a clearly defined audience you can't possibly build an advertising campaign. The more clearly you can define your target audience the easier it will be to create content, ads, and emails.

Lyfe Marketing offered 13 creative tactics for restaurants:

  • Create social media challenges or contests
  • Understand how hashtags work
  • Use user generated content
  • Focus on local SEO
  • Optimize your web design
  • Boost posts or create sponsored ads
  • Monitor social media
  • Start a loyalty program
  • Blog
  • Use Pinterest to pin your food photos
  • Develop email marketing lists
  • Work with influencers
  • Make your food "Insta worthy"

The Biggest Restaurant Industry Trends for 2022. Brandwatch, June 2022.
How has the restaurant industry changed this year? Brandwatch took a "deep dive into how consumers rate their experience of restaurants and bars based on online conversations". Here are the trends they found to look out for in the restaurant industry this year:

  • Conversations have stabilized during a new "normal"
  • Takeout has downsides
  • Restaurants spark joy
  • Monday is brunch day
  • Plant-based food stay on top
  • Live music is thriving

How Lean Restaurant Teams Maximize Marketing Resources. QSR Magazine, June 2022.
QDR wrote, "while the big brands have large budgets to allocate toward marketing efforts, independent restaurateurs and groups need to make every dollar count. [But] the good news for teams with smaller budgets is that discounts aren't what generates loyal customers, creating tailored experiences and memorable moments do." In this article, QSR magazine recommends:

  • Understand your data
  • Use technology effectively
  • Target your audience, then segment your audience
  • Your database acts as a reflection of your target audience
  • Marketing is as much experiential as it is value-driven

For Modern Restaurant Marketing Chiefs, Speeds Matters More than Ever. Restaurant Business Online, April 2022.
As Restaurant Business Online wrote, "nothing tests a chief marketing officer quite like a viral video involving IHOP, a young hostess, Adam Sandler and milkshakes." In 2021, Adam Sandler was told that he would have to wait 30 minutes for a table during a busy period at a Long Island IHOP, and he "later tweeted that he only left after he was told that the chain's all-you-can-eat deal didn't apply to milkshakes."

IHOP soon responded with a "Milkshake Mondays" promotion promising to donate $1 for every milkshake sold to Sandler's favorite charity, Comedy Gives Back. Restaurant marketers have always had to react quickly, given the level of competitiveness in the industry. But that need for speed has intensified since the pandemic.

QSR is Prepared for Loyalty, But Beware of 3 Challenges. Customer Think, April 2022.
Customer Think wrote "reward initiatives provide additional insights into a customer base that is at once local and transient, rich and not-so-rich, and of all cultures. A rewards program, therefore, can help to make sense of customer characteristics that are considerably variable." Quick-serve restaurants "that want to introduce, change, or expand their reward options face three challenges":

  • There's less room at the table
  • The number of people seeking "fast" rewards is climbing
  • App-based programs (which are a must) are bland

Customer Think offered four ways to combat these challenges, however:

  • Learn what works for other QSR programs
  • See "chocolate and peanut butter" partners
  • Recommend secret member menus
  • Be sure you're equipped to be "biggie-er"

Josch Chodakowsky is a director of research and innovation at ANA.

The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Futures Pulse are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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