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How to Identify the Right Target Market for Your Restaurant


Trying to crack the restaurant code? Learn how to define your target market, find your ideal customers, and build a thriving business with this guide.

Are you dreaming of opening your own restaurant? Before lighting the grill and perfecting your signature dish, you must consider your target market or audience. You can't just pitch your food to everyone who likes to dine in a restaurant. Rather, you will have to identify a specific group of people who you will be serving your food to and then optimise your offerings as per the requirements of that specific group.

You can think of a target market as the foundation of your restaurant concept. Your restaurant target market defines everything, from the dishes you will serve to the atmosphere you will create. When a target market is well-defined, you will build a loyal customers base, increase foot traffic, and grow your overall customer base—all hallmarks of a successful restaurant. But you’re now probably asking yourself the following:

  • How to define your target market? 
  • Where to find demographic information? 
  • How to conduct a focus group?
  • How to analyse the acquired data? 

We answer all of these questions below, so let's find out.

What is a Target Market for a Restaurant?

Your target market is a group of potential customers who share common features and characteristics. These characteristics can be demographic (age, income, etc.) or psychographic (interests, values). Identifying the correct target market allows you to optimise and revamp your restaurant experience to perfectly suit customer needs and preferences.

With that in mind, below is a guide outlining the steps you should take to define your restaurant’s target market.

Steps to Identify the Ideal Target Market for Your Restaurant 

Before finalising your restaurant business plan, it's crucial to identify the right target market and here's how you can do that.

Defining the Concept of Your Restaurant

Once you have clearly defined the concept of your restaurant, you will be able to identify your target audience easily. As restaurant target market examples, high-end Italian dining is likely to attract an entirely different clientele as compared to a sports bar. 

Other factors that can contribute to your restaurant concept are the type of cuisine you serve, the price point you want the restaurant to be at, and your desired atmosphere.

Demographic Insights

Demographics refer to the measurable characteristics of a specific group of population. By analysing demographics, you can identify what your ideal customer’s lifestyle is like and what their dining needs include. 

Demographic considerations for the restaurant industry include age, income level, occupation, family structure, and location. As an example, a family-friendly pizzeria might focus on a demographic of young parents with higher disposable income who live in a suburban area. Census data and local market research reports can be useful sources for learning about demographics.

Psychographics & Behavior Analysis

While demography creates a portrait, psychographics adds subtitles. It incorporates a person’s behaviour, qualities, and interests. Client behaviour includes eating habits and spending patterns, while qualities and interests can include everything about how they want their experience to be. 

Understanding these factors will help you identify aspects that motivate your target customers. For instance, are they health-focused clientele looking for something organic? Or are they hurried professionals looking to grab a quick bite? 

Social media can be a great tool for identifying the psychographics of your intended customer base. You can use different social media tools to identify which restaurant is most visited in the targeted area, what dishes are being sold the most, and what sort of interiors the local population prefers.

Market Research Validation

Don’t just rely on your gut feelings about your target market. Instead, get data-driven feedback through targeted market analysis to make sure all your indicators are on point.

In this regard, online surveys can give you access to a wide audience and relevant information about their demographics, preferences, and dining behaviour. Then comes the competitor analysis, which will provide you with a clear picture of what similar restaurants in your domain are doing and who their target audience is.

Lastly, focus groups can provide you with an opportunity to gather a small group of customers and offer them a complete dining experience at your restaurant. You can discuss your restaurant concept in detail with the focus group to get in-depth quantitative data, which will be highly insightful.

Tools & Tactics for Target Market Discovery

Having the right tools and tactics in your arsenal is crucial to determining why, what, and who your ideal customer is. Here are a few tools you can use while identifying your restaurant s target market:

  • Online survey: Employing online survey tools such as SurveyMonkey or Google Forms allows you to measure your audience’s demographics and gather insights into your target market’s dining preferences and choices.
  • Competitive analysis: Look at restaurants similar to your proposed one to determine their target market and find out how they market their restaurant. Explore their SEO strategies, online reviews, and social media to glean valuable insights.
  • Focus groups: Assemble a small group of potential customers within your target demographic for a live discussion about the restaurant concept and menu items. This provides both qualitative and quantitative insights and allows you to directly observe the participant’s feedback and reactions.
  • Demographics: Use publicly available data such as census and local market research reports to understand the demographics in your area of interest. This provides you with a starting point to start your market research.
  • Social media analytics: platforms such as Facebook and TikTok Audience Insights allow you to analyse users who interact with food-related content and follow similar restaurants like yours. Also, keep track of your own social media posts and interact with your restaurant’s fanbase to get a first-hand glimpse of what your customers are thinking about your restaurant. 
  • Review platforms: Reviews provide insight into the public’s opinion about a particular restaurant. Always respond to negative reviews and listen to potential solutions to identify and use competitive vulnerabilities.
  • Mystery shoppers: You can also hire a mystery shopper service to conduct a customer experience audit and see areas for development.
  • People watching: Take a walk around the area where your restaurant would potentially be and observe the dining habits of your target audience. 

Identifying your target market is an ongoing process. As your restaurant evolves and the market landscape shifts, revisit your target market definition regularly to ensure it continues to reflect your ideal customer.

Developing a Targeted Marketing Strategy

With a well-defined target market in hand, you can craft a laser-focused marketing strategy that resonates with your ideal customers. Here's how to translate your target market insights into a winning marketing plan:

Understanding Your Target Market's Media Consumption

First of all, it's crucial to identify the media consumption patterns of your target audience. When it comes to media consumption, age is a significant factor. The younger demographics will most likely spend a lot of time on Instagram and TikTok, while older adults may read the local newspaper, and everyone in between might check their email each morning.

You should also consider what sort of interests, in terms of entertainment, your target market has. For instance, do they read food blogs or are they regular visitors to the local food festival? Location is also crucial. 

Consider local publications or neighbourhood social media groups to reach potential customers close by. Identifying these aspects will help you target them in the right online space and save you from wasting your marketing budget. 

Crafting Your Message

If you want to connect with the people most likely to patronise your restaurant, talk in terms they identify with. Your language and graphics should be based on their preferences and values.

For instance, a health-oriented eatery might emphasise the freshness and organic quality of their ingredients, while a kid-friendly pizzeria may emphasise the fun factor and affordability value. Promote the benefits that resonate most with your target demographic. They don’t merely wish to know more about your food; they want to understand how it can benefit them.

Consider these questions: Does your menu cater to dietary restrictions? Does your restaurant offer a convenient solution for busy families?

Concentrate on the experience you’ve crafted for your target market. People don’t come to eat; they come to experience. Promote the unique ambience you’ve created specifically for them.

Choosing the Right Marketing Channels

As for the marketing strategy, you might want to consider social media marketing as your weapon of choice. It is one of the most powerful advertising tools for reaching target customers on their favourite platforms.

Google Ads also offer a comprehensive solution when it comes to paid marketing strategies. In some cases, Google ads can achieve more favourable results as compared to social marketing. For instance, if you're trying to target a very focused group, you might want to utilise the power of Google ads. 

SEO is another great way to reach out to your clients searching for similar dietary delights. Even though SEO might take some time before converting your efforts into customers, these results will surely last longer than those offered by paid advertising.

Local newspapers, news, TV shows, and festivals can also offer you targeted marketing opportunities with instant results. Collaboration with local food bloggers and influencers to promote your restaurant can also bring forth positive results.

Online reviews and listings will also be beneficial, as you will be able to attract new customers. Satisfied patrons can be motivated to write a good review about the food and high-quality services on Google My Business, Yelp, Reddit, and other review platforms. It might also be wise to involve public relations and influencer marketing.

Measuring Your Marketing Success

Keep an eye on how website and foot traffic is being affected by your marketing strategies. Observe how consumers engage with your ads on social media and stuff; watch and act on the reviews and feedback received online; and adjust the marketing based on how the new trends continue to work.

Use your POS reports to see which marketing initiatives result in higher customer acquisitions and revenue. This informative data will help you optimise your marketing strategies and keep turning in profits in the long run.

Importance of Defining Your Target Market

Imagine opening your restaurant doors to a sea of unfamiliar faces, unsure of who might walk in and what they're looking for. This is the gamble you take without a defined target market. But why is identifying your target market so crucial for restaurant success?

Focused Marketing Efforts

A well-defined target market allows you to tailor your marketing message to resonate with the right people. You can avoid wasting resources on broad marketing campaigns that might not reach your ideal customer.

Menu Development

Knowing your target market's preferences and spending habits helps you curate a menu that appeals to them. Are they health-conscious diners seeking lighter options or families needing budget-friendly choices? Adopt a menu management strategy that reflect their desires.

Attracting Repeat Customers

When you understand your target market's needs and wants, you can create a dining experience that caters specifically to them. This fosters loyalty and encourages them to return for more.

Competitive Advantage

In a crowded restaurant industry, a clearly defined target market gives you a niche. You can differentiate yourself from competitors by catering to the specific needs and preferences of your chosen demographic.

In essence, identifying your target market is like having a roadmap for your restaurant. It guides your decision-making, from menu development to marketing strategies, ultimately leading you towards a sustainable and successful business.

For almost 20 years, 3S POS has offered one of the most flexible EPOS systems to international brands such as Caffe Concerto, Maroush, Comptoir Libanais, Pepe’s Piri Piri, GDK and thousands more delighted customers.

If you are looking for an EPOS system for restaurants that will not just help you accept payments but includes inventory management, loyalty programs, and much more, speak to our sales for a free demo.

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