You have come up with a great restaurant concept, but is it unique and distinctive enough? First, we make a comparison with Netflix: before Netflix emerged, it was common to rent a movie from the video store like you borrow a book from the library. Since the rise of Netflix, video stores have quietly disappeared from the scene. The unique advantages of the special concept of Netflix are obvious: A large selection of movies and series for a relatively low price while, compared to a video store, it takes up less time and effort to start watching a movie or series. Netflix has succeeded in communicating these unique selling points to their consumers. Unfortunately, not every concept succeeds in doing so.
Also for restaurant concepts, it can be challenging to effectively communicate the right unique and distinctive selling points to consumers. In this article, we will explain what often goes wrong. Subsequently, we offer two solutions!
Unique Selling Points (USP’s) are unique and distinguishing characteristics of a service, product or (hospitality) concept in comparison with competing services, products or concepts.
Imagine: you, like Netflix, have come up with a special concept. A restaurant concept in this case. You then tested this restaurant concept on your targeted customers and you determined what your most important selling points are. Meanwhile, you have opened the restaurant, but the number of incoming orders does not meet your expectations. You simply can’t convince your potential customers of your selling points. What makes other restaurant concepts succeeding, while your restaurant concept does not bring in enough orders?
Which selling points you use in the communication towards consumers is essential. More is not always better in this case!
A common restaurant concept: “Order the cheapest pizza here, delivered hot, within 30 minutes!”
Many restaurants use a sales strategy by which they simply name all the possible selling points of their product, service or restaurant concept (Anderson, Narus & Rossum, 2006). Their thought process? The more selling points, the better. For example, a pizza from Pizzeria X is cheap, delivered fast and hot in a sustainable package, well-filled and generously topped. The advantage of this selling strategy is that it doesn’t take up much time because a delivery restaurant does not have to learn about their competition and customers this way. However, this strategy has not proven effective because of the following two problems:
- Problem 1: Often, many of the selling points used correspond to selling points that competing restaurant concepts also use for a similar restaurant. For example, “cheap” is a relative term. Another pizzeria in the same village may even be cheaper. Also, this competitor might be using sustainable packaging as well while using a similar amount of toppings. This sales strategy does not come across as very convincing anymore as soon as potential customers notice such similarities.
- Problem 2: A second drawback of this strategy is that many selling points are communicated to potential customers while they often don’t consider (some of) these benefits as important at all. A simple example: Pizzeria X advertises the many toppings with which they fill a pizza, while it turns out that many customers prefer a simple pizza with few toppings because they want to watch their weight..
Fortunately, there is a solution to both of the abovementioned problems. Although it requires some time and effort, it will be well worth the investment. Using the right selling points will give you an edge over your competitors and will help you attract customers more easily with your restaurant concept.
Solution 1: Only communicate the unique selling points of your restaurant concept
Do not communicate all selling points to the customer, but only the unique ones. In this case, the selling point “cheap pizzas” can only be used if the selling prices are actually lower than at the competing nearby restaurant concepts. Doing so, a restaurant avoids advertising with similar selling points as other pizzerias in the same area. Differentiate yourself from the competition and give your customers a reason to order from your restaurant concept instead of from the pizzeria around the corner.
In order to find out which selling points are unique, a comparison must be made with competing restaurant concepts. Base the comparison on, for example, prices, menu, delivery times or sustainability. It is also important that this comparison remains up-to-date. Therefore, stay informed of developments within the market. Is there a similar restaurant concept starting in the neighborhood? Immediately include it into your comparison and make adjustments (where necessary).
Solution 2: Do customer research!
To solve the second problem (selling points not perceived as valuable by the target audience) it is necessary to research the needs of your target audience. As long as you did not study the needs of potential customers, the chosen sales strategy is solely based on assumptions. More often than not, such assumptions turn out to be incorrect in practice.
Customer research to test these assumptions can take several forms. For example, you can ask customers point-blank questions about what they consider important regarding your restaurant concept. Another option is to draw up a survey that you send along with the confirmation email of an order. This takes more time but is a lot more reliable.
2, 3, or 4 unique selling points?
Do you have two unique selling arguments and hesitate to add a third in your communication to potential customers? From a psychological point of view, it might be better to choose an odd number of selling points in this case. Research by Hines (2010) found that odd numbers or an odd number of names, arguments or solutions stimulate the reader to think. More than an even number or an even number of names, arguments or solutions does.
By solving the previously mentioned problems, you can communicate with one, two or three arguments that are not only unique, but that you know of that the customer will actually appreciate. Incorporate these unique selling points into your brochure, when you create marketing campaigns on Facebook or start an Instagram account for your restaurant concept. Doing so, you know that these selling points are effective and are going to resonate with your target audience. Remember: more is not always better!
Don’t have time for extensive customer research and/or a competitor comparison? We strongly recommend that you write down all the sales arguments of your special restaurant concept yourself and make choices based on common sense. Need advice? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 020-8202196.
Thank you for reading,
- Anderson, J. C., Narus, J. A., & Rossum, W. (2006). Customer Value Propositions in Business Markets. Harvard Business Review, 2006, 1-10.
- Hines, T. M. (2010). The Odd Effect and Multiple Meanings in English of the Words “Odd” and “Even”. Psychologische Berichten, 107(2), 443-446.