Two plates of salmon on a white table.

Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute

Two consumer segments stick out as the most valuable.

How to Court Today's Seafood Consumer

What can you do to attract more customers to your dining rooms now and in the future?

High stress is in the DNA of the foodservice business. Operators today, however, are under even more pressure, dealing with labor shortages or automation that is coming to market almost up to the task. You are trying to figure out how to ensure quality control with third party delivery companies like GrubHub or Postmates. Maybe you’re attending conferences or listening to podcasts to stay up on trends, and the never-ending eating plans that American’s are trying out this week. (According to the Hartman Group, 44 percent of Americans have recently experimented with some modern eating approach.) It is hard to keep them all straight: Paleo, Keto, Plant Paradox, Vegetarian, Flexitarian, they all start to feel like attention-tarians after a while.

So what can you do to attract more customers to your dining rooms now and in the future?

We asked 4,000 people across the country what motivated their decision-making when it came to seafood now, and what they were likely to do in the future. Their answers clustered into consumer segments based on their behavior and attitudes rather than their generational identifiers. Two consumer segments stuck out as the most valuable. These two can give you sales lift, repeat business, and become your brand ambassadors, they are your “Super Consumers.” While the machinations go on with the eating plans, these two “Super Consumers” share certain characteristics, and are looking through the “enjoy” and “avoid” lists for certain high-level qualities and brand messages that you can deploy.

Together they are:

  • Clustered in urban areas
  • Living an upscale lifestyle
  • Concerned about climate change
  • Connected via social media
  • Supporting American jobs
  • Needing to trust where their food is from
  • Spending the most money eating out

The Seafood Super Consumers further break into two sub groups: the “Optimizer” and the “Originator.” While the above is true, they are distinguishable in a couple of different ways. To begin with, the Optimizer skews male. He’s busy and food is fuel. He’s less likely to try something new, and he needs food solutions to be ubiquitous. He’s willing to use whatever source can fill his needs. He will order online, buy from a C-store, or any foodservice operation. One caveat though, he’s brand sticky, and so if he has a good experience he will repeat it. If he doesn’t, it’s unlikely that he has time for a second chance.

The most valuable is the Originator that skews female. She makes purposeful decisions, and is likely to be the one you see positioning her phone over the dish you’ve just prepared for her. She agrees with him on the big picture, and takes it a step further. She’s talking about functional foods or even food as medicine. She is that attention-tarian who’s actually eating healthier than she did last year, partly because she’s eating more seafood. She is an adventurous eater, trying a new restaurant or a new dish on the menu and reporting back. She wants to discover you, to give you props, bring her friends and family to your place and show them what a find it is.

If your operation resonates with the Seafood Super Consumer, this could help: Asked how they feel when they see the Alaska Seafood logo on the menu:

  • 61 percent are more likely to order the seafood offering
  • 56 percent will return to your restaurant in the future
  • 53 percent will recommend your restaurant to others

Victoria Parr joined the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute as the Domestic Marketing Director in December 2016. Previously in food, she worked for an artisan dairy in Northern California and for industry icon, Coast Produce in Los Angeles. She worked for nearly two decades in entertainment, and was key member of the team that produced Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan on NatGeo and store shelves around the world. In Los Angeles, she developed a series concept that was centered around the chefs in governor’s mansions across the country, and worked with Master Somms to develop several transmedia concepts that explored every aspect of wine from science, to pairing, and even fraud. Her history with foodservice reaches back to her first job at her father’s club, then at Arby’s in her hometown of Tacoma, WA, and through bar management at fast casual for several years. She served her country as one of the first women in the US Air Force’s Special Forces, stationed at Hurlburt Field, Florida. Her degrees include a BA in Leadership from The Evergreen State College and an MA in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Screenwriting from the California State University, Northridge. Parr currently resides with her husband in Juneau, Alaska.

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