Restaurant Marketers: Pivot Your Strategy to Gain Market Share as America Reopens

The restaurant industry is seeing a surge that has enabled them to recover sales lost during the pandemic. Sales increased 36% year-over-year to $61.2 billion in March 2021, according to This number is only slightly down from pre-pandemic sales of $62.7 billion in March 2019. Restaurant Business attributes this surge to consumers spending their stimulus checks, the availability of vaccines, along with easing and, in some cases, lifting of pandemic restrictions completely. Notably, takeout sales remain at similar percentages as during the pandemic, which might indicate that consumers are spending more at restaurants no matter if they feel comfortable dining in or not.

It is no secret that COVID-19 has affected how people dine. In the past year as the pandemic forced restaurants to close or limit their operations, consumers adjusted their habits accordingly:

  • 10% used delivery for the first time
  • 12% ordered carry out for the first time
  • 14% increased frequency in using delivery services
  • 19% increase in frequency of using carry-out

In a consumer survey by Valassis, just over half of consumers expect to make their new dining behaviors part of their routine even after COVID-19. As businesses begin to reopen across the country, plans will vary from city to city and state to state. Diners will have different levels of comfort with returning to in-person dining. Communicating with your customers is key to letting them know your plans to meet their needs and drive traffic to your restaurant or website.

As you evaluate and plan your marketing strategy, consider the messaging below to form a successful advertising plan and win the battle for diners:

  • Dining rooms are open
  • Curbside is still available
  • Delivery availability and options
  • New menu items
  • Employment opportunities
  • New locations on hold in 2020 are now opening
  • Loyalty programs
  • Mobile apps
  • Updated business hours
  • New precautions being taken
  • Special deals and offers (to drive traffic and gain market share)

How can Mspark help you solve the challenges of reopening and drive more diners?

Our targeted mass media solutions offer national reach to 116+ million households through direct mail, and 82% of our audience open and read their mail at the first opportunity. Just how powerful an impact can direct mail make on your restaurant marketing strategy?

  • When print is paired with digital media, advertisers see as much as a 30% increase in response.
  • When you add direct mail as part of a multi-channel campaign, it does more than simply engage consumers; it drives activation and purchase intent.
  • Print drives 11% purchase intent compared to only 4% with digital alone—that’s a 175% increase in purchase intent when anchoring your digital campaign with print!
  • 62% of restaurant or take out customers responded to an ad/coupon in the mailbox in the past 12 months.
  • According to the Data & Marketing association, direct mail has the highest response rate by far when compared to email, paid search, online display ads and social media.

If you’re ready to talk more about integrating your strategy to drive better results and ROI, reach out by clicking Get Started below.


Sources: Restaurant Sales Almost Fully Recovered in March, Jonathan Maze,, Apr. 15, 2021; Valassis consumer survey 2020; AdMall AudienceSCAN 2020; Canada Post Neuroscience Report; Millward Brown Print Campaign Analysis