Case Study: Restaurant Group Uses Spend Data to Analyze Customer Base

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Merchant: Good Food Guys
Location: San Francisco, California
Platforms: Thanx, Chartio
Bottom Line: Customer data analysis and consumer research can help restaurants hone in on the most effective digital marketing strategies.

Retailers weren’t alone in their quest to capitalize on the frenetic holiday shopping season. November and December are important months for restaurants, as well, as businesses rush to capitalize on the upward spending trends that happen at the end of each year. For Good Food Guys, a restaurant group that owns and operates fast casual restaurant concepts in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, digital marketing platforms helped bring in customers who were already out doing their holiday shopping, and also rewarded the people who visit most frequently for their loyalty throughout the year.

During this past holiday season, Good Food Guys ran a “Healthy Holidays” campaign to attract business and introduce customers to the company’s loyalty program. At Mixt, one of the restaurant group’s two multi-unit fast casual restaurant concepts, loyalty members who dined at the restaurant five or more times during the holidays received 50%-off five additional visits in the new year. The company also surprised its longer-term VIP customers with personalized Swell bottles, which can be filled with lemonade or iced tea for free during subsequent visits.

“It’s a win-win promotion,” says David Silverglide, CEO and co-founder of Good Food Guys. “It’s a great way to help our customers stay on track with healthy eating choices during the indulgent holiday season and in the New Year. And for Mixt, it’s a great way to attract business in the slower holiday season as well as introduce customers to our loyalty program.”

This year, Mixt saw a 95% increase in loyalty sign-ups as a result of the holiday campaign, and Silverglide says there was a huge shift to mobile sign-ups. With each new sign-up comes a chance for increased data collection.

At both Mixt and Split Bread, Good Food Guys’ other fast casual restaurant concept, Silverglide and his team combine their loyalty programs, which run on the Thanx platform, together with their ERP, POS, accounting, and HR systems. The funnel the data into their own databases and then use analysis and charting tools like Chartio to gain insights about their customers and operations.

“The biggest hurdle is tying data together from multiple platforms and then figuring out how to make that useful and have an impact. In that regard our internal marketing initiatives are focused on price elasticity and maximizing margin on each customer. The granularity of the data and the analysis tools allow us to do that in ways we never could in the past,” he says. “By the same token, our external marketing is focused on customizing and enriching our loyalty programs and leveraging the data for hyperlocal, targeted marketing.”

Silverglide says he was “stunned” by the frequency of Mixt’s top customers during the recent holiday campaign. The results of that campaign are now helping Silverglide and his team think more closely about what rewards would be the most meaningful going forward.

“If you get your lunch from the same place two to three times per week, would you want to skip the lines? Would you like a free cookie with your meal? What is it about these customers that can help us identify the best prospects in new markets? Or help us migrate less frequent customers to be just as loyal? Doing a combination of customer data analysis and consumer research with our most frequent guests is helping us hone in on the answers and inform our future strategies,” he says.

Although Good Food Guys rewards top customers at its restaurants all year long via its loyalty program — doling out things like this year’s insulated water bottles based on overall spend within the fiscal year and visit frequency — the company also layers on premium perks like gifts and “insider access” one to two times per year. These events typically align with the holidays or with news from the brand. For example, giving VIPs early access to new stores or menu items encourages those customers to evangelize, and that type of word-of-mouth marketing is more valuable than any amount of paid advertisements.

Looking toward to the future, Silverglide he’ll continue recognizing his restaurant group’s most frequent customers with the best perks, but he also emphasizes that loyalty programs should be about making an overall elevated experience, rather than just throwing out discounts to bring people in.

“We are tracking our VIP bottle free refill redemptions and looking to see if visit frequency and spend increase as a result of this campaign. If we see increases in both spend and frequency with our most loyal segment, we’d deem it a success,” he says. “We are also paying attention to anecdotal feedback on customer reactions reported by our store associates and tracking shout-outs from customers in social media.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.