Casual-dining chains are hosting late-night live music events in an effort to attract diners and get them to stay later and spend more.
“Music and food have gone together for decades, and restaurants offer local musicians a venue and audience,” said Linda Duke, a local-store marketing expert and chief executive at Duke Marketing LLC. “Restaurant patrons enjoy the entertainment and typically stay longer and spend more.”
While using events as a marketing strategy is not new, it is an effective way to lure customers. Music events usually boost sales by as much 10-20 percent for the day, if promoted in advance Duke said.
And people tend to purchase more beverages, appetizers and desserts off late-night menus during those events, she added.
Nation’s Restaurant News spoke with executives at Hard Rock Cafe, Wild Wing Cafe and Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill, which all use music and related events to draw big crowds — and sales — after 10 p.m.
Driving traffic and loyalty
At Orlando, Fla.-based Hard Rock Cafe’s 138 restaurants in 56 countries, music permeates the experience, said James Buell, director of music and marketing at the company.
“Honestly, with live music, I think everybody’s got a special affinity for a song or an artist or that place in time,” Buell said. “We want our guests in a place that becomes a distinct memory…the opportunity for driving sales and increasing loyalty is paramount.”
If you give customers a fun environment and good memories paired with good music and food, they will keep coming back for more, he said. “[Music] is an icebreaker to get guests to come in,” Buell said, adding that it can build loyalty over time.
The goal isn’t necessarily to drive loyalty in the short term, he noted, but to drive it for the long term. Concerts bring in the “elusive” 14-29 age group, Buell said, and hopefully, when those consumers get older they’ll remember the fun they had and return to the place where they had a great, and memorable, concert and dining experience. “It’s just a way to stay engaged with the guests,” he said.