Customers researching pubs like restaurants
23 April, 2012
Consumers are researching their pub visits as thoroughly as they do their meals out in restaurants, new research by the Mystery Dining Company reveals.
The trend has been driven by the increasing number of pubs selling good food and their growing role as dining destinations. The survey of 350 pub-goers found that two thirds spend as much time researching a pub as they would a restaurant, with the friendliness and quality of meal considered to be the most important factors.
Given that most consumers now research online, the finding proves the need for pub operators to have detailed and engaging web profiles. Sally Whelan of The Mystery Dining Company said: “Consumers are carefully evaluating how and where they are spending their money across all aspects of their expenditure and therefore they are applying the same logic as they would their car insurance or electricity bill to choosing where to eat out. Pubs need to be aware that punters are also researching to see how their venue compares to other pubs and indeed restaurants on offer in the same area. If potential customers are trying to find out more your pub then the first thing is to understand what they will be likely to find, and then ask the question about whether it will it be enough to encourage them through your doors rather than someone else’s.”
Whelan advised pubs to make sure their websites carry details of menus so that people can assess the style of food and value. Photos and testimonials can also be useful, along with an active presence on websites like Facebook and Twitter. “Monitoring and participating in social media forums really is becoming an important part of the reputation management and marketing mix for pubs. Our own social advocacy programmes, whereby we collate and analyse feedback generated by genuine customers and help to feed results back through social media channels, has been receiving strong levels of interest from pubs who are looking to up their game in this respect.”
The Mystery Dining Company’s survey also found that seven in ten consumers now consider service to be as important in a pub as in a restaurant—more evidence of the narrowing gap between the two. “It appears customers are demanding even more from a pub in terms of customer service, and this essentially comes down to being made to feel welcome,” said Whelan.