2018’s Top Restaurant Marketing Tools to Bring Consumers to Your Door

Reputation is everything

More than in almost any other industry, reputation can make or break a restaurant’s success. Before online platforms such as Yelp, Facebook, and Google+ were common, written reviews from trusted sources, such as the Wall Street Journal’s Food & Wine section or Zagat, were the most accessible way for consumers to glean information about a restaurant. Due to the niche distribution and content constraints of printed reviews, restaurants could be overlooked entirely or not given the credit they deserve.

Today, foodies have an abundance of digital tools to connect directly with each other and share their experiences. This is a wonderful opportunity for restaurants to engage their consumer base and get the word out about their venue. Ask your customers where they look at reviews and incentivize them to share their opinions by offering a free drink or appetizer in exchange.

More reviews will help normalize your rating and provide insight into where you can improve. And if you think reviews don’t matter: think again. In a recent study, the Huffington Post found that a half star difference on Yelp can influence a restaurant’s revenue by 27%.

Make it easy for customers to find you

Don’t rely on foot traffic to bring guests to your door. More than 97% of diners look online to find local businesses. Of which, 60% cross-reference their restaurant selections with review sites, according to BrightLocal. This means, your restaurant needs to carefully orchestrate geo-targeted ads, as well as listings across major local map and review platforms so your customers can easily find you.

Consistency across channels helps your customers make the jump from searching for a place to eat on their tablet, to entering your location into their GPS, and leaving a positive review on their laptop after the meal.

Additionally, a seamless multi-channel presence signals to consumers that you are a reputable business that understands their needs and is able to provide the information they want, when and where they want it. Learn more about the importance of utilizing multi-channel marketing within your restaurant marketing from our team.

Pictures really are worth 1,000 clicks

When promoting the quality of your restaurant and food, pictures are the easiest way to engage consumers. While an online reviewer may share different tastes or expectations than the reader, a picture provides clear insight into what someone can expect at your venue. We recommend investing in professional photography to showcase your menu and establishment, combined with a curated social media presence.

As an example, Instagram – the quintessential photo sharing platform –  is slated to hit over one billion active users in 2018. If you can only pick one platform to invest in, this is your best bet. Over 80% of their users happily engage with brands already according to SproutSocial, and the photo-centric nature of this platform makes it an ideal place to showcase creative restaurant promotions alongside mouth-watering visual appetizers.

Whether you need assistance finding a food photographer, setting up your local listings, or boosting your reputation, our top Florida digital marketing agency can help. Reach out today for a free consultation with the BIGEYE team.

5 Social media marketing tips for restaurant owners

Despite the potential for success, buying and operating a restaurant can be deemed one of the biggest risks out there – which is why we’re here to help you out with 5 restaurant marketing tips for social media.
Various studies show a failure rate of between 60 to 90 percent, with a big chunk washing out during the first year, and an even bigger percentage taking up to five years to face their demise. And then, of course, even if you’re fortunate enough to outlast this risky period, you’ll still have to apply plenty of elbow grease through hard work, perhaps even working even harder than you’d ever imagined, to ensure stability for the long haul.

Various restaurant pros are quick to offer advice on how to keep the lights on and your guests happy, and it’s also equally easy for these same dining aficionados to identify points of perceived weakness – especially after a restaurant crashes and burns (hopefully not literally).

These 5 restaurant marketing tips for possessing a strong social media presence can assist your restaurant brand in getting the word out. It may not be able to help with financing and cash flow, which is why some lenders avoid restaurants altogether, but it will assist you in your marketing efforts. In fact, successful social media marketing can help boost awareness, interest, and general loyalty, which all can be factors in getting prospective diners excited to serve as patrons at your establishment.

Though some social media marketing experts may suggest first creating a channel on every main social network, this may prove to be a bit of a challenge. In any case, the reasoning may be sound: to reach a larger number of users who may avoid certain platforms. For instance, if you rely solely on Facebook, you will exclude those who deliberately choose not to use this social channel. However, a big mistake that’s easy to make right out of the gate, is to create numerous pages on each channel, and then not maintain any of them. If you find yourself in this situation, it might make more sense to identify a select few social outlets, and manage your presence adequately and regularly on each. Longtime studies of online behavior for social media marketing of businesses suggest that there is often a push to create pages for a new company, but then these same pages become dusty from lack of consistent effort. The most important restaurant marketing tip for social media is that you must maintain your social media presence and engage your fans.

Here are some other useful restaurant marketing tips for utilizing social media:

  1. 1. Pictures of food

    Though people are interested in what prospective diners might think about an establishment (good or bad), they may get especially excited if they can see images of what’s actually available on the menu. For this reason alone, visually-oriented sites like Instagram or Tumblr are perfect for showing exactly what will appear on a restaurant patron’s plate. Photo channels can be used to continuously add menu items, or perhaps showcase the day’s special. Photos can also encourage restaurant-goers to take photos of their meal and upload them to their personal pages, with special incentives for tagging the restaurant. (Even more bonus points can be accumulated if servers/hostesses assist in staging photos, ensuring that food items appear in the most appealing manner for both the diner – and, in turn, for the restaurant.  You’re not limited to Instagram and Tumbr, as sites such as Facebook and Twitter also allow inclusion of photos of delectable menu items. A study by Facebook shared with Social Media Examiner stated that photos are one of the most effective ways to engage your readers – this compared to links, status updates, video, or even photo albums.

  2. 2. Offer online coupons

    Online coupons may be made available directly from your page, or be provided to participating diners via text or email links delivered on a regular basis. Offering exclusive discounts might serve as an incentive encourage diners to enroll to receive your texts, or for your VIP club, especially if the registration process isn’t too complex. Promotion of this service can also carry over to your Facebook page for cross-promotion. Although coupons may result in smaller profits per item, you have the potential to make up for diner discounts as a result of the increased number of visitors coming through your doors.

  3. 3. Go beyond traditional food service in your restaurant marketing

    By using Pinterest, your page might be used to offer information about where your food comes from, or to offer some fun step-by-step recipes with before and after photos. A YouTube page has equal added benefits, for instance, including instructional video of one of your chefs preparing one of your signature items, or possibly, a popular dessert. Along the same lines, Snapchat images of the kitchen crew can showcase your restaurant team’s personality, and your team members having fun. Your loyal fans will love this “sneak peek” of what goes on outside of the public view. Restaurant Engine suggests registering with Yelp, which will allow people to post reviews, and Foursquare, which allows diners to “announce” when they check-in.

  4. 4. Cross-promote like crazy

    If you’re chronicling something cool taking place on one channel, don’t forget to tell people about it on your other channels. This could be a Facebook contest that you cross-promote on Twitter, or vice versa. If you have a blog, be sure to regularly describe any interesting events or content on the various social media channels. This will encourage people to visit each, and in essence, help to build your brand.

  5. 5. Be responsive

    A sometimes overlooked aspect of social media marketing is actively interacting with the public.  Start by posting questions that people may enjoy answering. Be ready to respond quickly and politely if someone posts a negative experience or opinion, or asks a question on a channel.

Restaurant owners should embrace social media as an inexpensive way to reach new customers and ensure existing diners keep coming back for more of your delicious specialties. For more innovative social media marketing strategies, contact our team of experienced industry professionals today!

Why people live to eat (and are getting rewarded for it)

Forget a 15% tip … how about a 35% increase in restaurant guest visits? According to Loyalogy, top loyalty cards and program provider, that’s the expected uplift many restaurants enjoy when they introduce loyalty programs to their marketing mix. Discounts, point systems, loyalty cards, keychains, apps, social media offers, and memberships are just a few of the many ways restaurant marketing programs can leverage reward systems to drive business and boost foot traffic. To get you started, here are a few simple guidelines.

Simply ask:

After guests complete their meal, present them with a quick survey asking how their experience was and what types of rewards would motivate them to return on a regular basis. Keep it simple and straightforward so your guests are not annoyed with the survey experience. If you have difficulty getting customers to answer your survey, try incentivizing them with a discount or free dessert. You can guess at what motivates your customers, but it is faster, easier, and more accurate to simply ask. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive some operational insight that will help you improve your quality of service and overall restaurant experience.

Frequency rewards:

Frequency rewards, such as loyalty cards, are one of the most common ways to encourage guests to come back. Everyone from major hotels such as Starwood, to dining sites such as OpenTable – and, of course, restaurants – are using loyalty programs to keep guests coming back. The benefit of frequency rewards is that you are driving more visits that will offset any type of reward you choose to give. A simple break-even analysis will help you understand how many visits you need to accrue before a reward has paid for itself and brought you greater than expected revenue.

Lead with value:

Another option is to lead with value. Membership to restaurants and social clubs, such as the SoHo House brand, incentivizes visitors to come back by providing exclusive access to special menu items, spaces, or experiences. Whether members pay a fee to join or must meet a threshold of purchases to remain connected, your business will benefit. The key is understanding what extra value you can provide to members that they cannot get anywhere else. Cooking classes with a celebrity chef, members’ wine tasting events, or on-site performances are a few of the ways you might augment your traditional dining experience. Ideally, any exclusive experiences you offer would not incur additional or exorbitant fees to the day-to-day operations of the business, so consider what relationships or in-kind exchanges you can leverage to keep costs low.

Partner with existing programs:

Lastly, one of the easiest ways to build your rewards program is to partner with an organization that already has a membership or loyalty base. A raw juice bar may benefit from partnering with a nearby gym, for example. Consider what local partners naturally align with your restaurant and evaluate what they are doing to drive visits. By giving another organization access to your customer base, you can cross-market for each other and generate business that will benefit both brands. In addition to encouraging repeat visits, partnerships also give your brand exposure to customers that may not have discovered you otherwise.

If you still aren’t sure where to start, or need help kicking off your rewards program, we’re here to help. Click here to learn more about how businesses like yours have partnered with BIGEYE to create loyalty programs that work. We strive to build brands by transforming their marketing strategies – check out our website to learn more about our services and contact information.

The science of restaurant menu design and what you need to know

It’s no secret that restaurant branding – specifically in terms of restaurant menu design –  is truly an art form. Be it unique, exquisite, quirky, or reminiscent of the latest fad in bringing the scrumptiously delicious to life, there’s much to be appreciated about menus that possess that special quality. Think of it as a certain creative ingredient (or perhaps an entire recipe) that only serves to elevate a pleasurable dining experience – even if from the very first brand interaction.
Below, we bring you 5 outstanding restaurant menus, and why we believe they’re prime examples of complete culinary design genius at work:

Brass union

I love everything about this concept! I’m such a mark for industrial-style design and you can’t get much more industrial than menus made to look like invoices straight out of a 70’s-era brake pad factory. The layout is straightforward and easy to navigate, and the descriptions of the items aren’t too long and complex. Overall, this menu doesn’t look very daunting when it’s first presented to you. For authenticity’s sake, I hope these menus are printed on a dot-matrix printer.

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Some burros

Who doesn’t enjoy bright and friendly colors paired with bold, hand drawn lines? This menu design makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I like that the only actual menu descriptions are specific to this brand’s speciality items. It definitely helps to keeps the clutter to a minimum – and let’s be honest…it’s Mexican food. If you don’t know what a taco is, then I pity you.

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Black tap


It’s so easy to get minimalist design wrong, but this team got it oh so right. The flow of this design is great because what this restaurant does best is placed front and center. I’ve been to so many restaurants that bury their signature items deep in the menu, and I’ve never understood why they do so. If you are known for a signature dish (or even have it in your name), then it makes perfect sense to ensure that it’s a cinch to locate on the menu.

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Made

The ingenuity of this menu is to be applauded. The design team kept the actual look of the menu simple so that the experience of going through the menu is what stands out to the restaurant patron. It’s so intelligently thought out –  brunch, side items, and drinks take up the least amount of room so they are up front, while lunch has a larger selection, followed by dinner (which typically has the largest selection overall). This menu just begs to be explored, no matter what time of the day you are visiting the restaurant.

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Salty’s

When I’m going to a seafood restaurant, this is the kind of menu I want to see. The illustrations are great, and the overall feel of the brand definitely reminds me of the beach. The menu being rubber-banded to the wood backing board is a nice touch, too. Overall, the presentation is an inexpensive, easy way to make a customer feel perceived value in their meal, all while enhancing their dining experience.

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Do any of these menu options whet your appetite to further bolster your restaurant’s brand to create a positive dining experience to make your customers take notice – and come back for a second helping? Contact our team of uber-talented creative design experts today to determine how we can help you achieve your goals!

Restaurant marketing strategies to encourage real reviews

Social media, travel, and review sites can be a great testament to your business’s credibility, customer service, amenities, and experiences. The problem is, most people only write reviews when they’ve had a shockingly horrific experience, or were completely blown away by something. But how do you encourage the masses of happy, satisfied customers in between those two spectrums to write reviews? A great place to start is with a well-devised approach- be it in terms of marketing your restaurant, or promoting your hotel, resort, or tourist attraction.

The formula is simple. Whenever you make a request of your customer – whether it’s asking for an email address or seeking a review – you must be certain that you give them something of equal value in return. Simple campaigns that exchange real value for real reviews will bring your existing customers closer to your brand, while in turn, generating new reach within your target audience. Here, BIGEYE shares the following quick and easy recommendations – in case you were in need of a little added inspiration:

For restaurants and bars

If there’s one thing you need to know, it’s that locals are truly your best friends. Use this to your advantage by employing restaurant marketing strategies that encourage local reviews. Attract your seasonal audience by engaging restaurant review sites such as Yelp and OpenTable. Host “locals’ nights” and offer a free appetizer to anyone who writes a review. Invite reviewers to preview new menu items or cocktail variations on the house … in exchange for a review, of course. Chances are, your reviewers will want to come back for more … tell their friends … or maybe even spread the word to those random tourists they bumped into on the street.

While some restaurants and bars host trivia night. Take things to the next level with your approach to restaurant marketing by hosting your very own branded “social media night.” Tweet-ups, meet-ups, and other social gatherings are hugely popular. Get people in the door by offering discounts, free bites, or some form of entertainment. Plan these activities on your traditionally slower evenings to boost business you wouldn’t otherwise have  – and to encourage all your guests to review, post, and Instagram away. Possible prize offerings may be awarded for tweets and reviews, or simply let people generate their own buzz around your business.

For hotels and resorts

Offer customers a deep discount or give them one night free for a good review. Chances are, your guests will stay longer than one night, and will be so pleased with their “free” vacation they’ll be more inclined to make up the difference in food and beverage costs or on-site amenities. If you’re worried people will “game the system,” put straightforward terms and conditions around the offer to limit one freebie per household. (This will ensure that the reviewer was a visitor within the past six months.) You’ll get a great review  – and some extra business in the process.

Another option is to create a brand ambassador program. Use a point or discount system to reward guests for meaningful social media posts, photos, and reviews. This strategy may promote quantity over quality, so consider using an “application” process that asks potential brand ambassadors why they’d be a great fit, and what unique social media skills they bring to the table.

For tourist attractions

Most travel destinations boast a host of unique activities. You can’t miss swimming with the dolphins in Mexico. Wine tasting in France or Surfing lessons in California. And most of these activities are prime photo opportunities. But as you might have experienced for yourself, even the most seasoned selfie-taker has trouble capturing these moments from the perfect angle. At the end of each activity, guests begrudgingly head toward the photo stand, where professional photography of their adventure is on display. Sneakily, some guests may attempt to covertly snap a copy on their phone, while many visitors simply choose not to purchase these photos on principle. If you offer one digital copy in exchange for a review (which can be easily emailed after the review is verified), you are creating a currency your customers genuinely value. There’s no overhead cost to you, and consequently, plenty of opportunity for gain. 

Because most tourist attractions are one-off experiences that come with a premium price tag, providing discounts on future visits may not be the best strategy. Most often, this is due in part to the low volume of repeat customers. Instead, let your guests give the gift of their memories to others. Let them know that when they write a review, they have the opportunity to share a meaningful discount with a friend. This technique perpetuates your business and makes your customers feel good for reviewing you, while also sharing something with their friends and family. That’s what we call a win-win.

Did these strategies peak your interest when it comes to encouraging your valued customers to share more about their dynamic, memorable experience with your brand? To continue the conversation by uncovering additional opportunities to engage with your target audience, and develop repeat clientele through reviews, contact our team of advertising professionals today!

Developing a highly effective fast food marketing strategy

It’s 2017 and fast food restaurants are starting to catch on: green is in and greasy is out. We’ve all seen the Instagram accounts with millions of followers that only post acai bowls and kale salads. Okay, so what does this mean for fast food restaurants, and more importantly- what does this mean for their marketing strategy?

Whether the menu is organic, locally sourced, or cage-free, it’s clear that the fast casual restaurant model is winning with consumers. The Chipotles and Shake Shacks of the world have revolutionized consumer expectations of what fast food might actually include. With healthier consumer mindsets, companies like McDonald’s will need to place a greater emphasis on the “food”, not just the “fast” when it comes to effective fast food marketng strategies. While we still crave the efficiency that comes with a quick meal, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t compelled to make healthier choices as we take on the world, either. We’ll take a pricier burrito bowl over the $1 menu McChicken if it means feeling good about my eating choices (and sparking jealousy from my followers on Snapchat).

So what are the fast food giants doing to shake things up? For starters, McDonald’s is shifting its philosophy from “billions served” to “billions heard”. Burger King and McDonald’s have added salads to the menu, and Mickey D’s is now serving antibiotic-free chicken, milk from cows not treated with growth hormones, as well as egg white breakfast sandwiches. Not without notice, the company is taking steps to clean up its act, so to speak.

The misstep here, though, is the threat of brand inconsistency when it comes to strategic fast food marketing. Is McDonald’s attempting to ditch their old image, replacing it with the notion that they’ve evolved into the go-to restaurant for quick and mindful meals, or are they clamoring to reach millennials by being unapologetically indulgent? While I’m glad McDonald’s has added more health-conscious items to the menu, and I don’t believe the chain has to lean one way or another in an effort to remain successful on the fast food marketing front, the traditional image they have consistently held is going to be a mighty tough one to shed – and one they shouldn’t be so quick to throw away with that crumpled-up sandwich wrapper.

I don’t think McDonald’s needs to hop aboard the kale and granola, solar-powered train just yet. People still want to indulge, and as long as there’s a 24-hour drive-thru available, hungry Americans are going to continue to crave their Big Mac fix. Not everyone is counting calories or putting spinach in their smoothies; the problem with McDonald’s image may boil down to simple food quality. By bumping-up the perceived quality of their meals (even if it means increasing prices accordingly), aligned with a strategic marketing plan, they may just remedy any residual reputational risk.

Hungry to develop a fast food marketing strategy that speaks to today’s consumer? Contact our team to effectively super-size your marketing efforts and deliver messaging that resonates with existing and prospective “grab-a-meal-on-the-go” enthusiasts!

Taco Bell’s breakthrough into fast food advertising for breakfast

Live más, and say adios to your boring breakfast sandwich. Actually, Taco Bell wants you to “defect” from your standard sunrise sammy altogether.
That’s the premise of the newly released ad touting the Mexican chain’s foray into the early morning menu market. It’s no secret that the Golden Arches have solidified their standing as fast food marketing breakfast leaders, however Taco Bell, long considered the “scrappy underdogs” – known more for late-night Crunch Wraps than early a.m. bacon and eggs – emerge to break you free from “circular sameness.” Taco Bell’s new, rather somber, campaign reimagines McDonald’s promise of happiness – with a darkened spin. Envision good ol’ Ronald McDonald, only this version has sunken eyes and a harrowing smile, and serves as the totalitarian dictator of the dystopia, Routine Republic, with oppressed citizens underwhelmed by uninspired Egg McMuffins. The grey cement walls of a drab city are covered in majestic sunrise propaganda posters, declaring “Same breakfast, same routine, same smile” with the loudspeaker ironically announcing how wonderful and happy everyone supposedly should be. Meanwhile, just across a filthy ball pit and a field of land mines that explode with glitter (arguably the less violent, similarly traumatic equivalent), is a world where people enjoy hexagonal breakfast foods, sunshine, and a spectrum of color. The protagonists of the story, a brooding male character and his attractive female counterpart, are finally fed-up with “sameness” and escape (set to the anthem of rebellious teens everywhere, “Blitzkreig Bop”).

[quote]As far as production goes, the concepts are incredibly imaginative. From the communist-era artwork of the propaganda posters, to the dingy yellow tube slide the army of unsettling…[/quote]

As far as production goes, the concepts are incredibly imaginative. From the communist-era artwork of the propaganda posters, to the dingy yellow tube slide the army of unsettling Ronald McDonald lookalikes slide down, the ad exudes McDonald’s “breakfast tyranny”. But, at the same time, “it can’t help but come across as some kind of Meta wormhole, like a microcosm of capitalism trying to devour itself. A smaller fast-food giant is knocking a bigger goliath for creating a fantastical totalitarian communist state,” as AdWeek puts it.

Another interesting twist is how cheekily Taco Bell compares the fast food marketing frontrunner to communism and the associated regimes of Stalin and Mao. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Taco Bell’s target young adult demographic might not be as familiar with communism in the same regard as their older counterparts, but the inferences remain. In fact, media outlets including USA Today and Fortune magazine recently compared the ad to a Hunger Games and Divergent-like dystopia – with no mention of communism parallels at all.

Overall, though, this fast food marketing campaign has the potential to deliver for Taco Bell – as the decided underdog, they’re clearly pulling out all the stops to make a name for themselves in the pre-lunchtime race. And while the concept isn’t necessarily the most original (think: Apple’s 1984-inspired Super Bowl commercial for the Macintosh), it does appear to fall in line with the company’s branding strategy. While McDonald’s has been actively trying to shed its image of being over-processed and unhealthy, Taco Bell has no shame in being, well, somewhat of both. Their commercials and promotions, unlike Mickey D’s, don’t include aspects like health benefits or number of calories – quite frankly, no one in the Taco Bell drive-thru is really fretting over how many grams of fat is in a Doritos Locos Taco (the answer: a lot). Taco Bell has built its reputation on putting interesting ingredients inside their popular burritos, catering to the late-night revelers with an affinity for fire sauce. In keeping with their core branding, it just makes sense for Taco Bell to think outside the McMuffin in terms of breakfast food and advertising (perhaps we should go ahead and trademark that one).

[blogCTA] Need some strategic direction? [/blogCTA]

Besides, Taco Bell is undoubtedly aware of the fact that we both know I’m not picking up an A.M. Crunch Wrap as a result of it being a balanced way to start my morning; I’m waiting in the drive-thru for my alternative to “circular sameness” simply because it just sounds pretty dang good.

Looking for a thought provoking, head-turning strategy to better position your brand? BIGEYE is ready to help – contact us today at 407.839.8599 to start the conversation!

Iconography and retail consumer goods package design

Ever taken a moment to really think about the goods and service we use everyday? How about the retail consumer goods package design of the products we embrace most frequently? If you haven’t guessed it, we are a highly visual and emotional species. It’s a hugely interesting exercise to contemplate why we’re driven to make certain purchases, and to have preferences and leanings toward specific brands. Well, the choices we make are due in large part to the look and feel – the tangible presentation elements – of our favorite products, and the emotions they evoke within us as consumers.

[quote]Our product-buying decisions, and a significant portion of that emotional response, come from the invaluable  art and science of effective retail consumer goods package design.[/quote]

Our product-buying decisions, and a significant portion of that emotional response, come from the invaluable  art and science of effective retail consumer goods package design. Here at BIGEYE, we’ve decided to take a look at some of the most iconic, recognizable retail consumer goods packaging, and what makes each so highly memorable – and hugely popular – among the buying public.

Tiffany & Co

Typically, sales packaging like a box holding a new necklace wouldn’t garner much attention. I, for one, usually rip open a package without any hesitation (or ladylike grace) if I’m expecting some glittery, golden goodies. However, it doesn’t take a novice to note that Tiffany’s robin egg blue box is almost as valuable as the jewelry it contains. The coveted box, wrapped up in a luxe satin ribbon, has inspired wedding decorations, cakes, and centerpieces – the company even has it’s own blue box charm that sells for $250. In fact, empty boxes have even been known to be hot commodities on eBay and Etsy. The distinct color, some say, was chosen because turquoise was a popular jewelry color at the time, although no one is entirely certain of its iconography. In any case, the robin’s egg color (also known as No. 1837, representing the year the company was founded) is instantly identified with Tiffany’s; while the box still says Tiffany & Co., it certainly doesn’t need to. And for those of us who obsess over the origin of specific colors from a design aesthetic, Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of The Pantone Color Institute, says, “It evokes positive thoughts and reactions, and this, combined with the status that Tiffany has assigned to it, makes for perfect packaging.” Our inner-gemologists would tend to agree.

McDonald’s

McDonald’s. Mickey D’s. Nothing seems to instill excitement in a child at dinnertime quite like a McDonald’s Happy Meal box. Perhaps it was because my brother and I were only treated to those tasty chicken nuggets and fries on special occasions (like getting good grades, or when our mother just really didn’t want to bother with dinner), but that feeling of pure joy experienced whilst waiting in the drive-thru line is something that continues to resonate with me today. And the anticipation of knowing there is a prize waiting inside that red and yellow box? That was only half the fun. While the images on the box may change, and the promotional campaigns surrounding the tasty alternatives to mom’s cooking have evolved over time, the feeling it elicits in a child still remains. At BIGEYE, we’re still lovin’ the effective use of retail consumer goods package design for our beloved burger and fries.

[quote]Take a look at how BIGEYE took an established coffee chain, Barnie’s Coffee, and modernized their packaged goods design.  [/quote]

Amazon Box

No time for a trip to the mall? Thanks to the juggernaut that is the online shopping phenomenon, our lives have become ever-influenced by the ease and simplicity of making purchases via the wonders of the Internet. As an adult, that same sense of excitement I felt when getting a McDonald’s Happy Meal is now provoked by seeing that distinctive package on my porch. While the price point of my online treasure is surely much higher than a value meal, that doesn’t prevent me from feeling the sheer thrill and delight I experience upon seeing my order arrive on my doorstep. There’s just something different about the Amazon box—and I think others can agree. In fact, the simple cardboard box with the Amazon logo is raved about so enthusiastically on Twitter, you’d think it was the online equivalent of the Tiffany box. Ponder for a moment about how that simple arrow on the side of a basic cardboard package makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside – and how easily you can return to your computer to make it happen all over again with the few simple clicks of your mouse. Sheer bliss, indeed.

Chanel No. 5

I’m not certain what people are more interested in when purchasing Chanel No. 5: the perfume, or the bottle. The sleek curved glass, single white label, and black sans serif type is modern class at its most exquisite. Beloved for generations, the design is sophisticated, timeless, and has even sparked Chanel to design a plexi-glass clutch version of the iconic bottle. Who wouldn’t want to take a little of Madame Coco – and all her finery – with them as a compliment to their favorite ensemble? Santa, are you listening? I know it’s early, but clearly, the list above covers all my “wish list” items accordingly.

Based upon the examples above alone – and there are so many we’ve left off our list – it’s fairly safe to say that the the power of packaging is far more important than just practical design, although that is certainly necessary, as well. The design needs to speak to the brand advocate’s needs and emotions equally, and directly, in the effective promotion of a product to really illicit the appropriate reaction, and to positively impact buyer behavior. The end result: brand elements that fully support your overarching objectives, and perhaps even attain that iconic status we marketers revere.

Looking for award-winning retail consumer goods package design strategies for your product that will resonate with your target audience? Contact us today to get the conversation started!

The science of retail visual merchandising and consumer behavior

Consumer spending habits – what truly drives behavior? We’re not talking about simply coercing prospective shoppers into your store, we all know (as does your bottom line) that at the end of the day, it involves so much more than the simple volume of foot traffic. Truth be told, we ALL want to compel consumers to actually transact business, which comes down to exploring the science behind those all-important strategies and proven effective retail visual merchandising techniques that will generate an uptick in sales. Here’s the million dollar mystery: how do we captivate customers and capture their attention in a fast-paced, competitive retail landscape? At BIGEYE, a retail visual merchandising agency, our goal is to transform businesses by helping them better understand these buyer behaviors and purchasing decisions –  and to design messages that reach, resonate, and compel customers to take action. This could be why I have more throw pillows than I’ll ever need – honestly, one more accent blanket and my living room could look just like the Pottery Barn display. Gets me every time.
[quote]Oftentimes, when playing “psychologist” and conducting focus groups and other exploratory research, we uncover a disconnect between a brand’s ideal essence, and the in-store presence that is being communicated via visual merchandising displays – unbeknownst to the client. [/quote] When engaging with a skilled retail visual merchandising agency, our approach starts with a gap analysis to determine a company’s strengths and weaknesses inherent in its existing retail strategy. This process affords us with the opportunity to make changes that have a lasting impact on a potential customer’s decisions to purchase specific products, drilling down by factors such as color preference, price point, and a number of other characteristics. While this gap analysis serves as the initial brand “discovery,” it always leads us to the identification of  areas of improvement and easy, high-impact wins (talk about two birds, one stone!). Taking this information, we then work with our clients to redefine their retail strategy. In some cases, this may mean updating the business’s brand strategy, or even embarking upon an overall rebranding process.

Then, we look to actual retail visual merchandising services, and identify tactics we can use in order to drive success. Here’s one way to break down our approach: identifying tangible and intangible techniques that we may use to better implement and stimulate customer interest in the specific products being sold.

With tangible techniques, we’re focused on how customers are influenced by aspects such as window displays, brands, signage, sight-lines and other clear, visible aspects of the design – elements that as a retail visual merchandising agency – we’re able to control. The intended results of our efforts include altering these techniques, and making ongoing revisions to continue to both compel, and to draw in more customers. I’m an uber-savvy consumer, too, and as a result of a number of these strategies being implemented in-store, I find that one minute I’m just looking, and next thing I know, the sales associates are offering to help me carry my overfilled shopping bags. It’s okay to admit it – you know you’ve been there, too, right? Proof positive that using tangible techniques simply works, albeit when implemented correctly, of course. For the tangible, we emphasize those tactile aspects of building displays that will capture our customers’ attention.

To highlight the winter campaign for London-based men’s clothier, Ben Sherman, images of London at night were used as large format backdrops in the store’s windows, featuring twinkling LED lights, capturing the Christmas spirit in a dreamy and luxurious way. Additionally, Hostem, another London clothing store featuring progressive Japanese brands, accentuates their avante-garde fashion through the use of visual merchandising. The impressive (and award-winning) displays are always unique, yet fitting to their aesthetic; using items like vintage church pews, ladders, old beer kegs and cases – even a Chesterfield sofa from the 19th century. It is this use of visual merchandising that truly allows shoppers to experience complete immersion of the brand when walking through the store.

On the other hand, when it comes to intangible techniques, we’re looking into the deeper psychology of how people react to certain stimuli – all of which are impossible to touch. For instance, we may look at customer influence via the senses (sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing), reactions to combinations of color and light to create visual effects, and the use of furniture to create social familiarization. For instance, many stores employ specific scents, think warm cookies fresh out of the oven – all in an effort to elicit a sensual consumer response, where shoppers are “hungry” to spend more. In addition, offering samples of products – food, perfume, or even makeup – may entice a customer to purchase the specific goods and products being promoted. Through the exploration of intangible techniques, we take a more theoretical approach to consumer behavior, based upon plenty of inferences, and supported by detailed, qualitative data. This is why I’ve yet to enter a Target and leave with only the items I planned to purchase – see, once again, the power of psychology is at play.

The benefits of partnering with a retail visual merchandising agency are tenfold, and through our exploratory research and based upon client implementation and testing, we’ve uncovered that both of these types of tactics have the potential to have significant positive impact on your bottom line. In research done by IJESIT on the effect of visual merchandising, 85% of the study’s participants agreed that color, lighting, ambience and attractive visuals (and we mustn’t forget welcoming scents, as in the prior home-baked cookie example) make them spend more time in store. In applying both tangible and intangible tactics, we are able to create cohesive retail displays that generate an emotional association with a brand’s target customers. Be it the individuals who prefer the heavy discounting of “sale” goods, or the power of a stunning display that seemingly – and rather inexplicably –  compels a person to buy, BIGEYE‘s skilled team members understand each company’s need to master such practices in order to ensure that shoppers are drawn into a store, and that they remain interested in its inventory throughout the customer experience.

Finally, we take our learnings and incorporate them into a business’ media mix, identifying ways to create brand alignment in all channels, including both interactive and traditional media. The goal of this portion of the process is to retain customers and encourage them to become brand advocates, serving as active members of our brands’ communities.

If you’re in search of a customer-centric retail visual merchandising agency that possesses the know-how to drive success for your brand, contact BIGEYE for a consultation at 407.839.8599, and discover how we can assist in taking your company – and your products and service offerings – to the next level!

Creating effective retail visual merchandising displays

When it comes to retail strategy, the companies that are, indeed, “getting it right” understand the importance of effective retail visual merchandising displays. These are the oft-admired businesses that attract attention by partnering with merchandisers, designers and artists to conceptualize immaculate displays that garner attention – even from far away. Think of it this way: with a penchant for specific brands, and if given the option, most consumers would typically choose to work remotely from their local Starbucks location, versus setting-up shop inside a Dunkin’ Donuts. Why, you ask? Well, it’s a fairly simple concept when you think about it. Starbucks stores have a connotation with the promotion of calm productivity; from the artwork hanging above the tables, to the light strumming of latte-friendly background music, the coffee retailer upholds its vision through and through. In contrast, the “America runs on Dunkin’” brand, (while also incredibly strong), caters to the on-the-go coffee drinker, and it’s fairly apparent in the brand’s visual merchandising, as well. Although these two companies center a majority of their promotional efforts around coffee shop marketing, and despite having a hugely similar product, the associated consumer messaging is starkly different for each brand. As a result, both have proven, successful approaches – appealing to their respective target consumer for pretty obvious reasons: speed and convenience, or relaxation and comfort.
That certainly doesn’t dilute the value of a caramel-drizzled cup o’ joe, now, does it?

So, what’s the “secret ingredient” to retail visual merchandising success? While there really is no secret formula to ensure that a brand’s message will effectively resonate with the wallet-toting, Frappucino®-loving consumer, one of the most critical – and often most powerful – elements when delivering messages via in-store channels is to ensure that displays contain two critical elements. They must be both aspirational, while also maintaining a company’s ability to deliver on its brand promise. In other words, the customer must feel as though the brand’s commitment is being fulfilled – be it a steadfast promise to adhere to service quality standards, the caliber of the ambiance of a store’s location, or to product innovation. When she purchases from your company, she must feel as though your retail strategy falls closely in line with the overarching brand strategy. Interestingly, this is why companies like Hollister go for the “California cool” approach by enlisting the use of surfboard displays and Yellowcard on their music playlist. On the flip side, and completely on-brand, the backlit displays in Chanel stores elicit a certain degree of elegance and posh. Ideally, these messages will subliminally permeate throughout the brand’s media mix, initiating a comprehensive customer experience that begins with the consumer’s initial impression, and maintains the same – or heightened – levels of engagement throughout the customer journey, and the comprehensive sales funnel.

At BIGEYE, one of the greatest cross-industry challenges we see companies encounter is in crafting enticing, attractive, and compelling retail visual merchandising displays. While some brands have been known to pay lip service to the perceived potential impact that robust merchandising has on a customer’s decision to purchase, we know all-too-well that conceptualizing designs without actually taking the necessary steps to execute them properly is a futile effort. Here’s the proof in your perfectly prepared Peppermint Mocha: psychology studies have shown that impulse buying ultimately comes down to seeing a given product. Companies may actually be able to coax customers into making certain product purchase decisions based upon product displays, assembled in a manner that elicits a “can’t pass by without directing at least some degree of focus on a product” mindset. Remember the time you purchased that candy bar you didn’t need while waiting in the Trader Joe’s checkout line? How about picking up yet another coffee tumbler from the aforementioned Starbucks location you frequent? Well, you can thank science for that! In fact, Lars Perner, Ph. D and Assistant Professor of Clinical Marketing at the University of California Riverside’s Marshall School of Business, believes that the more visible the product is, the more likely it is that people will, indeed, purchase it. This, of course, is all provided that the consumer is aware of the product, and its intended purpose. (Sadly, I’m all too familiar with the consequences of that pesky candy bar on a girl’s waistline, and yet, I’ll purchase it anyway. Sigh.)

[quote]Through extensive market research, we’ve seen the proven impact that the effective arrangement of a display has on consumer behavior, with the primary approach always focused around the development of a poignant theme. [/quote] Developing a dynamic proposition opens up the doors to possibility in terms of visual storytelling. Too many times, we see brands crafting displays in an effort to find as many common connections as possible, all the while, thinking this will result in an increase in product sales. Ironically, too much clutter or disorganization within the theme can cause confusion, and may actually dissuade potential customers from entering a store. Maintaining this focus on the central theme is crucial when constructing a display’s design.

In New York, where companies spend millions of dollars on interactive retail visual merchandising displays during the holidays, shoppers line the streets of Fifth Avenue specifically to see the winter window displays. Light shows, music, and interactive yuletide imagery entices chilly (albeit exuberant) shoppers to enter these stores to engage with the brand – and hopefully, to spend large sums of money as they purchase gifts for friends and family. These companies have deduced that they have the distinct opportunity to sell more product, simply by showcasing items in a big and bold manner, as opposed to blending into the visual scene scape. It’s driven by an individual’s inherent attraction to this novelty, as people are impressed and excited by things they haven’t seen or experienced before.

Color also has significant visual impact on purchasing behavior, so we mustn’t forget that fact. It might seem silly, however using starkly contrasting colors does, in fact, cause an instinctive reaction – likened to the primal sense of emotional arousal that our ancestors would have experienced when seeing a tiger – can you believe that one? Attribute this with the notion that certain colors also have the potential to trigger various conscious and unconscious emotional states, and designers can actually create color combinations that will attract and divert attention to these products. For instance, red is the most commonly used color in restaurant visual marketing, as it stimulates excitement and even appetite; the second is yellow, which invokes feeling of joy and optimism (are you craving a Big Mac right now, too?) But if the brand promotes health-consciousness and well being, most often the color of choice is green—think Whole Foods and, (dare I mention them again), Starbucks. The influence that color has is much stronger than most of us consciously realize; and by selecting the perfect color combination, your brand can have a very persuasive impact – likely without the consumer having any awareness.

So, when you’re considering strategies that may really make a substantive difference between a second-rate display and a insanely powerful one, hopefully, you’ve now sufficiently consumed a little retail merchandising food for thought. We’ve uncovered some pretty powerful analytics regarding trends and concepts that make in-store shopping so appealing, and if you’d like to learn how to increase your business’ revenue, paired with a positive impact on purchasing decisions based upon best practices for visual merchandising in retail, contact the BIGEYE team today to get started!