Denny’s has fostered its relationship with seniors, Millennials and Hispanics by speaking their language, which is why the Spartanburg, S.C.-based brand launched the Denny’s Latino page on Facebook last month, vice president of marketing John Dillon said.
The nearly 1,700-unit chain not only will interact with its Spanish-speaking guests through Denny’s Latino, but also will offer original and curated content meant to entertain and engage a Hispanic demographic that is increasingly active on social media.
The launch of Denny’s Latino on Facebook follows the family-dining chain’s release of a nostalgia-filled promotion aimed at Millennials, “Greatest Hits Remixed,” in which Denny’s worked with Atari to update classic 8-bit arcade games with a diner twist, like turning the “Asteroids” game into “Hashteroids.”
As with other demographic groups, Hispanics are open to engaging with brands on Facebook, as long as that brand talks in a way that respects the audience while entertaining them, Dillon said. The Hispanic segment also has been found to be especially active in social media, according to several studies Denny’s cites, including one that found that 68 percent of all Hispanics use some kind of social network, compared with 58 percent of all non-Hispanic consumers.
“We definitely want to carry on the thought that America’s Diner is the original social network,” Dillon said. “You’ll see initiatives that address all our targets, all of which are important to us in different ways. It’s challenging, but it’s an exciting part of the business.”
Dillon spoke with Nation’s Restaurant News about the importance of Spanish-language marketing and of understanding what kind of content engages Latino guests.
Before launching a Spanish-language Facebook page, had you not been able to respond as well to Hispanic customers in social media?
We want to be available to speak to and interact with our Hispanic audience, no matter the format. Our customer hotline has Spanish speakers as well.
But one in four guests walking into our restaurants is Hispanic, and that number will continue to grow. They over-index to social media, and we know for instance that 23 million Latinos are active on Facebook every month. They’re very receptive to brands that talk to them directly.
How does Denny’s view its role as a content creator when it’s trying to serve several different demographics simultaneously, like Hispanics?
It’s something we definitely noticed and picked up on. The Hispanic audience is very attuned to all things digital and social. When we launch content, we think about it holistically. We think about it for the general market and the Hispanic audience, and in some studies, we’ve found that Hispanics are even more active on digital and social media than the general market.
Every brand knows it’s important to have Spanish-language assets, but it takes time to figure out what’s most appropriate for the brand.
So instead of taking a general-market idea and pushing it in the same way to Hispanics, why not create content targeted more directly at them? That should get better engagement. We’ve done things with branded entertainment, like our series with Cesar Milan, or an update to our chicken rap video. They all talk about our products, but more importantly, they engage our audience.
Within just the Hispanic demographic, there are so many differences, like English-dominant or Spanish-dominant speakers, different levels of acculturation and different countries of origin. How do you try to craft a message for all those people?
At the end of the day, for us it’s about looking for the commonalities between all segments. We’re “America’s Diner,” and Hispanic guests like what that represents. There’s an importance of family in the demographic, and that’s really the tie that binds. You can get paralyzed by over-thinking, so we’ve decided to lean into the commonalities we find even more.
We started down the path of, “Do we need a dedicated Hispanic menu or Hispanic products?” But in our research, we found that everybody likes American food like pancakes and burgers. So we’re infusing dishes and sides with Hispanic influences like chorizo or chipotle, but at the end of the day our best opportunity is to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner at an affordable price in a place that feels like home.