If you promote to 1 diner, you may win 1 customer dining at your restaurant. If you talk to 1 family member, you may win 3 family members eating at your place. Family customers can be attractive to restaurant owners in a way that the restaurant can either save one-third of the promotion cost or win new customers 3 times more.

According to a survey conducted by Technomic, 49% of the parents at least dine out once a week. Most importantly, they are not only looking for the family restaurants, and they are looking for a broader selections of the casual dining experience.

This is a huge opportunity for casual dining restaurant, which will be able to acquire family customers while not being positioned as a traditional family restaurant.

Tag “Kid-Friendly” to your restaurant

When family eats out with kids, kids influence where the family goes. The place that is not friendly to kids, can be a nightmare of the parents. There are a few things parents always look for in a restaurant:

  • High chairs/feeders
  • Children dining sets
  • Changing table or rooms for changing dirty clothes/diapers
  • Small stools for children

If you have these pieces of equipment, make sure you advertise these gold mines. There are desperate groups of moms exchanging recommendations of kid-friendly restaurants on social media, forums and messaging apps.

Great if you can put a “kid-friendly” tag on your website, online restaurant directories and digital signages on premises, by showcasing the images of these kid-friendly facilities. You will grab a lot of new family customers.

Make a ‘kid corner’ to avoid kids disturbing other customers

Kids crying and running around can disturb your regular customers. In order to please both family customers and the other customers,  it is wise to separate out a “kid corner” from the rest of your restaurant.

Given that not every restaurant is spacious enough to set a permanent “kid corner”, one of the easiest ways is using digital signage to turn on and off the ‘kid corner’ when necessary.

Depending on the visiting patterns of the family customers, the digital signage on the wall can flexibly turn on the “kid corner” at a particular time. You can easily schedule cartoons and animations to play on digital signage at a certain aisle, intuitively attracting kids and families to sit within a limited area, minimizing the disturbances to other customers.

You may also consider using stickers, mats, and toys to take the ‘kid corner’ to the next level. However, if your restaurant is not exclusive for families, you may need to take the items out and put them back from time to time, creating a lot of extra work and cost.

Hypnotize kids with animations

Kids always love to disturb their parents when their parents are eating, in order to seek attention from their parents. Having something that diverts kids’ attention and gives parents a break can be phenomenal in keeping loyal family customers.  

Looping a series of animations on the screens often calms down kids and helps the parents eat peacefully. Animations, no matter how repetitive and boring it may seems to you, will help your restaurant become a magnet that keeps pulling the kids back, bringing along with their parents.

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If you want to delight the parents in one go, digital signages often allow you to create a playlist to play not only animations but also education programs. This will give the parents’ the best excuse for coming back to your restaurant.

Are kid menus mandatory to target family customers?

It may wastes a lot of time and cost to set up a kid menu. A separate pool of ingredients and utensils are required. On top of that, making the dish look cute with different shapes and decors takes more time than what the price justifies. These may mean too much for a restaurant to please a new segment of customer.

Combo menu for the parents may be a smarter idea. Parents can order the regular food to share with the kids, with some finger foods extra to please the kids. Below are some popular and easy finger food ideas.

  • Toast with cheese, Nutella or jams
  • Sandwich with tuna and veggies
  • Fish fingers or chicken sticks with dips
  • Muffins with dried fruits
  • Milkshakes or yogurts with fresh fruits

Display the ingredients and allergens clearly

Parents has a radar for food nutrients and ingredients when it comes to kids. Not only are parents questioning whether the food is healthy or not, but also whether the kid is allergic to the food. Allergens can be fatal to kids.

According to KidsHealth.org , peanuts are the most notorious cause of food allergies, but we should not let our guard down on milk, eggs, soy, wheat, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish also. Simply speaking, a restaurant cannot avoid everything allergic.

Claiming a menu to be “allergen-free” can also change the whole operation of the restaurant. You may need to clean every pan and plate before cooking a dish. The change required may be too fundamental for a casual dining place.

Instead, the best protection to the kids is to announce and display the food ingredients of the dish, and the other dishes that may leave remaining in the pan and other cooking utensils. You do not need to design the food ingredient table from scratch, digital signages provide a lot of ready-made templates for restaurants to display food ingredients and nutrients.

Make extra revenue with ‘birthday parties’

Attracting a group of loyal family customers may open up a new revenue stream for the restaurant. For instance, running a birthday party or delivering a birthday menu can be quite profitable. While running a birthday party will consume your space and service, delivering birthday foods and drinks to home parties can give you an even higher margin.

At the start, you can test this service on a 100% reservation basis without setting up anything. With simple advertisements on the website and the restaurants’ signages, parents who are interested will think of your ‘birthday service’ when times come.

Are you ready to make extra revenue by acquiring the family customers? This may be easier and more profitable than printing a pile of leaflets or running a marketing campaign.


References: https://possector.com/marketing-promotion/kids-friendly-restaurant-ideas – https://blog.restaurantscanada.org/index.php/2016/01/14/eight-ways-to-make-your-restaurant-kid-friendly/- https://www.sld.com/blog/food-service/how-to-attract-millennial-parents-to-your-restaurant/

About the Author

Rex Lam

A marketing consultant passionate about helping businesses recognize the beauty and power of visual communication


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