Happy Hour Makes Young People Happy. But does it need to feel the squeeze in economic uncertainty? (Food & Fuel Report, part 4)
Who doesn’t like happy hour?
As a famous American poet once noted, “It’s five o’clock somewhere.”
But from a restaurant marketer’s perspective, how do happy hours work? Do they drive visits? Do they build loyalty? Do they enhance experience? How about converting to dinner sales?
Add in the factor that fuel prices are on the rise — up to $4 a gallon in some areas — and many customers are having to choose between saving up by staying in or paying up just to get themselves from one place to another. It has become a daily internal debate.
As a restaurant owner or marketer, you’ve got to be sure that your messaging and in-house efforts are keyed to resonate with consumers who are seeking stability and value in a time of economic uncertainty.
All week on Summit Social, we’ve been unpacking the results of our Food & Fuel research report. Food & Fuel’s goal was to find out how consumers are adjusting their dining-out choices in light of rising fuel costs and economic anxiety.
Today, we’re focusing on happy hour.
And we have happy news! Mix up a Manhattan and read on.
F&F Finding No. 4: Happy Hour Specials Are a Strong Hook for 20-Somethings
First of all, the young folks have it. Food & Fuel found that 71% of 21-29-year-old respondents had taken advantage of happy hour specials in the previous three months and plan to continue in the future.
Happy hour is particularly popular with women, who took advantage of the deals at a 10% higher rate. Further investigation pointed to the popularity of “Girls Night Out” deals.
What about when it came to choosing where to have that after-work cocktail?
Deals and discounts, plus a “follow my friends” mentality trumped brand loyalty when it came to choosing where to go. By the same token, respondents were more likely to indicate a favorite grouping of restaurants/bars than one single, go-to place.
Although 21-29-year-olds were the most likely age group (36%) to say they would decrease dining expenses in the face of high gas prices, they were also the highest percentage of respondents to indicate that rising fuel costs would not impact their dining out budget. If that sounds contradictory, that’s because it is.
This disparity is likely a reflection of how happy hour really is about the “happy.” More than just a meal out, happy hour satisfies a latent need for entertainment and social engagement.
Remember: Consumers are all looking for safe harbor in the face of rising economic stress.
- • Insight: Take a lesson from the young. For 20-somethings, happy hour combines value and entertainment to create a unique experience. Your messaging will work best for all ages when it portrays your restaurant as a place where customers will feel better for having visited.
- • Takeaway: Does your messaging present your full mix of price, entertainment, and increased feelings of satisfaction?
Closing thought: As you plan your happy hour strategy, it’s worth considering how you might combine the draw of after-work drinking into staying to dine. Tap into your guests’ enthusiasm for happy hour and motivate them to stay for dinner . . . or make it a seamless transition that’s barely noticed.
If you’d like more insight, download the free Food & Fuel Report.
Let us know how we can help make your customers happy. Call Summit Marketing at 1-(800)-843-7347.
Previous Food & Fuel Posts:
Part 1: How Do High Gas Prices Affect Dining Out?
Part 2: How Do Men and Women Differ in Choosing to Dine Out?
Part 3: Parents Not Impressed by Kids-Eat-Free Deals
Part 5: Conclusion: Age Matters and Local Drives