Finding a Niche Market in The Restaurant Industry

Focusing on a niche market in the restaurant industry will be the change you need to see lasting customer relationships that will raise your revenue.
Amanda Hamel

If you’re looking to set your restaurant up for success then you’ll need to narrow down your search. Every business is going to have an audience that works best for them. The secret to owning a successful restaurant is knowing how to market to that specific audience. By focusing on a niche, your restaurant will be heading in the right direction!

What is Niche Marketing?

The restaurant industry is highly competitive and constantly growing. That’s why it’s so important to narrow down your target audience and focus on making a lasting impression with loyal customers. Figuring out your restaurant’s niche is the first step toward aiming for a specific audience. A niche market is a smaller segment of people that make up a fraction of a larger market. In a niche market, all products and services are aimed toward fulfilling the needs of a specific targeted group. When determining a niche for your restaurant you’ll want to consider a few factors. This includes your existing audience, location, demographics, competitors, and budget. By focusing on a niche market, your restaurant will thrive!

Advantages of Finding Your Niche

Navigating your way through an industry as large as food service is hard enough, but it’s especially hard when you’re trying to market your business to everyone. When you find your niche and begin to market to your target audience you’ll see a huge change! Putting your efforts towards a specific niche will help set you apart from your competitors and develop a unique brand identity. 

The narrow focus will also show its benefits by enhancing customer relationships. Instead of spending a small amount of time trying to win over a large number of customers, you’ll now have the opportunity to build more loyal relationships. A study proved how important loyal customers are by sharing that companies have a 60-70% chance of selling to an existing customer, and only a 5% chance of selling to a new customer. Narrowing down to a specific niche may be what your restaurant needs to secure the loyal customer base you’ve always wanted. 

How to Choose a Restaurant Niche

There are thousands of different niche markets to choose from and a lot of different factors that play into choosing the perfect niche for your business. Let's take a look at a few areas individually to help you determine which niche works best for you! 

Location: The location of your restaurant plays a huge role in determining your niche market. That’s because the location directly impacts what type of customers you’ll see on a day-to-day basis. For example, if your restaurant is located next to a college campus then you can expect to see college students. Another example would be if your restaurant is located on a street that gets busier around dinner time, then you probably won’t want to pick a niche that relies heavily on breakfast. By understanding who your direct audience is as well as when you’ll receive the most foot traffic, you’ll be able to take advantage of these things and cater to your niche towards that specifically. 

Competitors: When deciding on a niche, you will want to take into consideration what your competitors are doing as well as who they’re marketing to. If you own a bar, take a look at other bars in your area and analyze who their audience is. With that information, you’ll be able to strategize and  determine how to differentiate yourself in the polluted market. 

Restaurant Type: Keep in mind what type of restaurant you’re running when deciding on a niche. Each style of a restaurant will appeal to a different customer base. The style of your restaurant and your niche should align to make the perfect dining experience for guests. For example, if you own a fast-casual restaurant you may want to appeal more toward a family-friendly experience.

Existing Audience: An easy way to figure out your restaurant niche is by paying attention to the people who already attend your restaurant regularly. Talk to them and discover what they love about dining at your restaurant as well as what they think the focus should be on. When you understand your current loyal customers you can focus on what's making those relationships flourish! 

Menu & Pricing: The menu items offered at a restaurant will often help to define its niche market. The food served reflects directly on the customers who order it. A restaurant with a niche in plant-based products won’t be serving fried chicken. The packaging and plating will also be affected by a restaurant’s niche. A fine dining establishment won’t serve its guest's food in a paper bag, whereas at a fast food restaurant that is completely acceptable. 

The pricing of your restaurant food will help establish your niche even more. Reflecting on our example of a restaurant next to a college campus. This business will want to focus on more affordable meals to cater to that niche market. By catering your efforts towards fulfilling the needs of your niche market, you’ll be gaining the trust of your guests and converting them into loyal customers!

Marketing Your Restaurant Niche

Once you’ve decided on a niche you’ll want to start implementing it into your restaurant. After doing so, it’s time to do some marketing! Whether you’re running a startup restaurant or you’re just redesigning an old one you’ll want to get people talking about it! Establish a voice in your local community and participate in events that will target your new niche market and introduce  people to your brand!

Remember, finding a niche that fits your restaurant perfectly is a hard task. Don’t be afraid to start from scratch and try again if your niche isn’t giving you the results you want. After a bit of trial and error, you’ll have the insights you need to navigate your way through the restaurant industry. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try some new strategies! Niche marketing can revolutionize the way you run your business, and will lead you down a path of loyal relationships that money can’t buy.