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Market Watch: Bars & Restaurants

Looking for a hot market to target in 2015?

Looking for a hot market to target in 2015? Raise a glass to this: Americans love to eat and drink at bars and restaurants. So much so that the National Restaurant Association says the sector’s sales likely increased 3.6% to $683.4 billion in 2014, which is equal to 4% of the U.S. gross domestic product. Americans also rank the restaurant industry as the top business sector in the country, according to a recent Gallup Work and Education poll.

“The restaurant and bar sector orders a lot of promotional products, as they strive to create and build a unique brand relationship and connect with their clientele,” says Mitch Weintraub, CEO of Pinnacle Promotions (asi/295986). “Promotional products are a way to help develop and expand a brand to reach out to their target demographics and foster repeat business.”

A general rule of thumb is that restaurants allocate 3%-6% of their revenue to marketing, according to a report from restaurant industry consultant Aaron Allen. And, while some restaurant owners think it’s best to spend money to drive sales when business is slow, Allen advocates spending marketing dollars to build on busy periods. “Fish where the fish are biting,” he says. “If July is your busiest month, you should spend a proportionate amount on your restaurant’s marketing budget in that month.”

Distributors should remember that the restaurant sector is always looking for ways to carve out its own unique advertising angle, making promotional products an inviting tool. “Brand visibility and creation of awareness is critical in a market where there is competition on every corner,” says Bill Mahre, president of ADG Promotional Products (asi/97270).

For more tips on how to sell to restaurants and bars, click here to read Counselor’s latest Market Watch column.