From #girldinner and tinned fish to chopped sandwiches and shrooms, restaurants can use platforms such as TikTok and Instagram to draw in new prospects and drive sales.
This article was written for Fast Casual by Katie Fairchild, Chief Marketing Officer at Restaurant365.
The impact of social media has transformed restaurants, especially when it comes to marketing. Many operators are already familiar with how to increase sales by using platforms such as TikTok and Instagram to draw in new prospects and drive sales within their loyal customer base, but is there any money to be made by cashing in on the popular social media trends?
As of the publishing of this article, #girldinner has garnered more than 1.3 billion views on TikTok. The popular “girl dinner” is loosely defined as “a minimal-effort meal trend.” For restaurants this could mean a mishmash of seasonal menu items that are currently affordable, items that have been over-prepped and need to go out, or any variety of perishable items that are nearing the end of their shelf life.
Popeyes jumped on the trend last month by featuring side dishes — mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, Cajun fries, coleslaw, biscuits and red beans with rice — to make a meal. In a statement, the chain said its girl dinner has “options packed with robust Cajun flavors that are made with the same slow, time-honored, homemade traditions of Southern cooking that the brand started in 1972.”
Another trend is tinned fish, which has been around for ages but has recently soared in popularity thanks to TikTok. While many of us immediately think of grandma’s sardines, TikTok has given tinned fish a makeover and it is causing higher-end canned seafood such as mussels, octopus and salmon to fly off the grocery store shelves. The good news for a restaurant operator is that these sources of protein can easily be added to a charcuterie board or to salads, pasta, and pizzas as tinned fish is much more cost-effective when compared to fresh fish. Because it is shelf-stable, the use of canned seafood can greatly reduce waste caused by spoilage.
The chopped sandwich is also gaining popularity. It is just like it sounds, everything you would find in a popular sandwich recipe — including the condiments — chopped up very fine like a salad and served in a roll. Any popular sandwiches already on the menu can be offered as a trendy chopped sandwich with little additional effort.
And we can’t overlook pasta chips. Pasta is typically one of a restaurant’s least expensive pantry items. Reinventing pasta as an appetizer is a great way to increase its sales. Pasta chips are created by cooking pasta in boiling water, air frying it to get crispy, then seasoned in a variety of different flavors with herbs and seasonings already in the kitchen.
What is the Average Profit Margin for a Restaurant?
For operators looking to cash in on TikTok or other social media-inspired dishes, below are a few tips on how to experiment with these trends without damaging your bottom line or disrupting your current menu.
While it is hard to tell what the next big social media food craze will be, there are some prime contenders to keep an eye on.
If priced and promoted effectively, experimenting with new menu items can help grow a restaurant’s profits, improve guest satisfaction, and offer great marketing and promotional opportunities.
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