Free Data Tracking Available To U.S. Bars And Restaurants

Food & Drink

Trends have existed since the early days of American wine, when Catawba was so successful it inspired Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem. The “Beautiful River” he refers to in the poem is the Ohio River, because that was the place where the first Catawba-based wines became wildly successful, especially as sparkling wine; proving that trends do come and go.

Rosé has been a lasting trend for now, and it seems Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon have been a lasting trend for decades. A beverage alcohol trend these days appears to be affecting restaurants, bars and other on-premise venues, and the respected data-gathering company, Nielsen CGA seems to agree.

In a press release, Nielsen CGA’s senior vice president, Scott Elliot was quoted thus: “…As the U.S. bar and restaurant landscape continues to face headwinds, pressure and shifts, data-fueled insights will be a crucial tool for success, ultimately helping food service players make the best operational decisions for their staff, customers, investors and business.”  

Not sure what that meant so I asked what are those headwinds, pressures and shifts?

According to Elliot, ”The competitive and headwind challenges are multifaceted. One challenge is the slowdown in traditional bar and restaurant supply, with long-term closures of traditional drinking outlets and the more recent decline in the number of casual dining restaurants amidst lagging traffic and sales. Also, the vast growth of delivery is impacting on-premise revenues, especially for the highly profitable drinks categories. Additionally, nearly one in four young adults have not gone out for a drinking occasion in the last three months, and health and wellness is a significant factor.

The press release also stated the on-premise venue has never been more competitive; in what way, I asked. Elliot said, “…retailers must capitalize on every visit to on-premise environments. They need to be able to innovate, price products appropriately, jump on local trends around sales mix and institute promotions strategically at certain times of the day.” 

The idea being, on-premise retailers who don’t follow the Nielsen CGA recommendation are likely to lose out to their competitors. To prevent that from happening, Elliot—and Nielsen CGA—have an app called RestauranTrak.

As Elliot explains it: “In today’s hyper-competitive landscape, bars and restaurants need to be able to make operational decisions based on data—not just their own, but more broadly what is resonating with consumers in their local area. This is the true value of RestauranTrak…Over the last 3 years, Nielsen CGA has been building partnerships to enable the creation of a very large data pool which effectively serves as the ‘market’ view in this benchmarking tool. This pool is now large enough to allow robust benchmarking in 44 U.S. markets. As even more restaurants join the RestauranTrak pool, then even more granular benchmarking is enabled.”

The free RestauranTrak launch covers those 44 markets, including several major cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Elliot promises restaurants will be able to “…see their sales data (total sales, check traffic and average check value) versus their local market, free for life…RestauranTrak currently refreshes on a weekly basis and reports within four days of any trading period.”

The information can be tailored to particular on-premise operational needs, segmented by outlet styles as defined by the Nielsen TDLinx outlet database.

Elliot says, “Future releases will enable users to select custom reporting areas (say, within a 15-minute walk of the outlet). The only sample limitation is ensuring that partner data is aggregated and anonymous to other users.”

As stated, RestauranTrak is free, and Nielsen CGA believes it offers good operational benefits for no cost or risk. But beginning in January 2020, added subscription options will get customers such information as, “time-of-day sales benchmarking (understanding if you are missing out on, for example, a Wednesday Happy Hour day-part or the weekend brunch slot) and sales mix reporting (to understand if your food, beer, spirits or wine offer could be improved by time of day or day of the week). In the near future, you will also be able to see average pricing for key drink items to understand the opportunity for optimizing revenue.”

Maybe this kind of tracking will level the playing field, as a new trend may be understood so quickly that no single entity will have the time to capitalize from it at the expense of competitors.

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