Let’s be honest here. We Filipinos are pretty fickle-minded a lot of the time and we’ve got quite the annoying tendency to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to restaurant trends.
Before even looking at a menu, our taste buds are already easily bribed by the allure of popularity and the satisfaction of being the first to try what’s cool.
Inventive restaurant owners are able to take advantage of this mentality. Some places will dig deep into their marketing (MarkEATing. Ha!) bag of tricks and pull out tactics and gimmicks to get YOU hyped about their offerings. With any luck, their efforts will snowball into actual visits, reviews (on looloo!), Instagram photos, you name it… and the cycle continues.
Here are four ways restaurants get people to line up (in sometimes massive hordes) for their food:
1. FREE FOOD… if you’re quick enough.
Freebies and giveaways are a no-brainer when it comes to wooing customers. A number of restaurants have taken it a step further by creating a limited demand for them. Restaurants like Yabu: House of Katsu and Magnum Manila Cafe are examples of places that have done this.
“Be one of the first XXX people to get in line and get free YYY” is a tried and tested formula to build early hype for a restaurant. It’s a tricky (and potentially risky) tactic, given that the place has to shoulder the expense of paying for several dozens of meals. For those that are able to pull it off though, it’s all made up for by the lifetime value of a returning satisfied customer.
A tactic borrowed from more traditional marketing playbooks, celebrity endorsement is another effective, albeit expensive, gimmick used by restaurants.
— Maxene Magalona (@maxenemagalona) January 14, 2010
While it’s often the big fast-food brands like Greenwich or McDonald’s that are able to afford and make the most out of this advertising channel, we’ve also seen a number of celebrities and celebrity entrepreneurs leveraging their own popularity for their restaurants.
3. Introduce Timely/Trendy Food Items
McDo Twister Fries. The KFC Double Down. One thing they all have in common is that you can’t always get them! The reason behind the success of a lot of these items isn’t just that they’re good, it’s also that they’re rare in terms of when you can get them. Rarity = higher demand. They’re the rare Pokemon you don’t find just roaming around in tall grass all day.
One other thing restaurants do is serve trendy or time-specific items on their menus. Some examples include Wildflour’s croughnuts or Wrong Ramen’s Ramen Burger, both piggybacking on their popularity in the US. Sebastian’s “Matinong Boyfriend/Girlfriend” flavors, capitalizing on V-Day’s ooey-gooey mushy vibes, is another. Even short-lived gimmicks like Minion cupcakes had people talking when Despicable Me 2 hit theaters.
4. Be a Successful Foreign Franchise.
Okay, so technically, this one’s not really a tactic per se, but hey, it works. Remember when eating at IHOP was all the rage? Two hour lines for pancakes! Jamba Juice? Krispy Kreme? All of them were greeted by insane crowds when they opened. It seems the grass is greener in the land of red, white, and blue.
You might call it colonial mentality, or just simply hopping on the bandwagon of another brands’ popularity overseas. Whatever it is, Filipinos eat this stuff up! Literally.