Operations – Marketing to Kids

According to the 2011 Consumer Expenditure Survey, families spent $40 billion on pizza around the country during 2010.  Married couples with children spent almost $36 billion, and single parents another $4 billion.  Families with kids contributed 80% of the total money spent in pizzerias that year.

While parents have the ultimate say on where to eat, their children play a large role in the decision-making process.  According to the NRA, 79% of occasions where the family eats away from home are influenced by children.  In addition, families with kids spend an average of $7.60 more per check.  What do these numbers tell you?  Pleasing kids means pleasing parents, which means more business and more money.  Parents listen to their children when deciding where to eat, either to avoid resistance or to make their kids happy.

Now that you know the importance of targeting kids, how do you get started?  Entertainment, entertainment, entertainment!  Video games and crayons with a coloring placemat are popular choices, but why not try something more creative?  For the little one, provide a ball of pizza dough to play with as soon as they sit down.  Or give kids a pasta necklace kit.  This will engage them for as long as it takes to prepare and serve their meal, which makes both kids and parents happy.  At the end of the evening, the child will have a creation that they’ll be excited to take home.

It’s important to give parents a reason of their own to come.  Offer kid’s birthday specials, or even a special price for an “A” on a report card.  This will provide the child with a sense of accomplishment, while saving Mom and Dad a few bucks on the meal.  These are things that parents will remember the next time they feel like eating out.

While entertainment goes a long way, the food remains the most critical factor in your business’ success.  Offer children’s meals with a wide selection, such as their choice of pasta, macaroni & cheese, slice of pizza, or grilled cheese sandwich, along with a cookie and drink.  Kids enjoy variety, and even the pickiest eaters will like one of these selections.  Parents would also appreciate a healthy side offering.  People also like to see what they will be eating, so be sure to include pictures on your children’s menu.  This will create some interest and eliminate any surprises.

When it comes to the restaurant business, kids cannot be ignored or excused as having little importance.  They may be small, but they can have a big impact on your cash register.

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