To Identify Your Restaurant Target Market, You Must Dig Deeper

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5 min read

Dec 11, 2023

To Identify Your Restaurant Target Market, You Must Dig Deeper

Hospitality professionals are people-pleasers by nature — they love making everyone happy. However, the most successful restaurant businesses don’t actually try to appeal to everyone. Instead, they hone their approach to cater to their target market. 

It can be difficult to shift your mentality away from trying to be everything to everyone, but the reality is that identifying your restaurant’s target market will help you provide a better dining experience. A jack of trades is a master of none, as they say, so let’s look at why understanding your customer base is so crucial. 

Demographics Make a Difference 

Simply getting foot traffic through your doors and to your tables won’t do much for creating lasting, long-term revenue. You need to figure out how to bring people back.

Defining and understanding your restaurant customer demographics is vital to helping you predict everything from how often someone will visit and their spending habits to how likely they are to engage with you online (69% of Millennial diners take a photo of their meal before eating, after all).  

To understand your target customer base, track: 

Age group
Marital status
Average spend

Once you become aware of these valuable insights, you can start making more informed decisions about things like menu items and ambiance — even down to your choice in music. In an interview with SevenRooms, Peter Varvaressos, owner of the Mexican vegan restaurant, Vandal in Sydney, Australia, told us that changing the music in his Reels led to a significant spike in Instagram engagement. It was a small change that made a big impact.

Targeted marketing is a learning curve. What works for one restaurant won’t work for another. For example, when Peter opened Vandal, he expected one type of clientele but got another. 

After using SevenRooms CRM to gather guest data, they learned that 90% of their customers were female. Pair that with the fact that Australia is trending heavily toward booze-free living, Peter started adjusting his menu according to demographic data. They began featuring less “dude food” and more female-friendly options, such as non-alcoholic drinks and trendy fried zucchini blossoms.

FYI: The SevenRooms 2023 booking report helped identify the five top Australian diner personas and their key traits. But restaurants all over the globe can use SevenRooms’ robust reservations platform to gather data unique to your locale — and adjust marketing strategies accordingly.

Pairing Down the Competition Gives You a Leg Up

Standing up to your competitors will feel less daunting when you don’t compete with every dining option in town. 

To pair down, start by putting a laser focus on the type of restaurant you want to be (and your ideal customers). 

Elegant cocktail bars shouldn’t waste time competing with the sports bars or dive bars down the street. Why? Because these venues each serve two different customer bases. The former may be more aligned with business travelers or big spenders in search of a place to hold a corporate lunch meeting, while the latter might serve families and more casual diners. 

When you identify your target market, it’s easier to identify ways you can stand out.

For example, Applejack, an Australian hospitality group, explained to us how market analysis helped them compete with other restaurants with similar vibes. A popular weekday venue in the business district had difficulty attracting a weekend crowd, so they decided to do something that no one else was doing to attract more visitors. 

They began hosting a music series called Soul Saturdays, where guests can enjoy two hours of unlimited drinks while listening to live soul music. And it worked! Their weekends are now a lot more lively (and profitable). 

Complacency Kills 

If you’re a hospitality industry veteran, then you know to always expect the unexpected. When identifying your target audience, be prepared to pivot … and then pivot some more a little later.

The most effective way to adapt quickly is to have concrete data at your fingertips that can provide insight into what’s happening and why. 

When Vandal discovered that the young, edgy customers they attracted were eating, drinking and spending differently than anticipated, they pivoted from a strategy catering to a younger, more frugal foodie to one that meets the high expectations of today’s modern diner. 

“I saw what they ordered, and I saw what they were drinking, and I saw their bill at the end; Their per head was higher than a corporate white male, aged 45, from the wealthiest street, the most expensive street. [I realised this crowd] would spend more money. “ 

After gathering data over time, they knew they could offer more creative dishes at a higher price point. Armed with data on their side, they could adapt without worrying about losing their customer base. 

How to Find Your Restaurant’s Target Market

If it’s not clear from our real-world examples above, data is the key to finding your restaurant’s target market. More specifically, you need to continuously use, track and analyze data to keep your finger on the pulse of your customer base. Here’s how to do it:

For this, you’ll need a tech platform with robust CRM capabilities that allows you to automatically track, store and organize information about your guests with customer profiles: everything from how often your guests tend to cancel reservations to whether or not they’re willing to shell out for an expensive bottle of wine. 

With the right CRM, you won’t have to rely on memory or your staff’s (helpful but imperfect) perceptions to gauge who your customers are, what they like and how you can keep them coming back.

Collect Information From Multiple Avenues 

Data can come from anywhere, not just the people sitting at one of your tables. Reservations and online ordering, for example, offer a treasure trove of information. 

For everyone who books a reservation, SevenRooms creates data-rich guest profiles that include information about dining preferences, visit history and customizable guest tags. Since SevenRooms also captures and integrates data about online orders, you can identify guest trends on and off-premise.  

You can also capture data from your marketing efforts on social media. 

Organic Social Media

You can learn a lot about your customers by paying attention to what they like (both literally and figuratively) on social media platforms. When you track which posts get the most engagement, you can take a more narrow, audience-specific approach that will set your posts up for success. 

With paid ads, you can track views, clicks, new followers and more, so you can see what’s working — and who it’s working for. Applejack expertly crafts varying paid social media ads to reach its target audiences across all nine restaurant concepts it manages. Several venues cater to a corporate crowd, so their ads target administrative professionals and executive assistants.

“We do a lot of paid ads on Meta, and for each campaign, we create different ad sets for different target markets. If we’re promoting corporate events, we’ll change the copy or the image to suit the target audience. It’s important to craft a specific message to the target persona to ensure we’re relevant, useful and creating impact for them,” says Applejack’s Director of Marketing and Partnerships, Joanna Steuart. 


It’s unwise to assume what your guests are thinking. As you learn more about your target market, keep your pulse on customer satisfaction with surveys and feedback systems. (Think of surveys like a faster, easier focus group.) For example, resurface the data saved from prior online orders and send guests a short email survey to learn more about their preferences. 

Ask the right survey questions and let guests respond privately so you elicit useful, truthful feedback.

Pro Tip: With SevenRooms’ customer feedback software, you can automate survey sends and link feedback to each guest’s profile. Even better, reward survey takers and guests who post online reviews with a treat, like a free dessert or bottle of wine, during their next visit.

How to Use Authentic Marketing to Reach Your Target Audience

In today’s world, customers are bombarded with marketing efforts at every turn, so restaurants that market authentically and intentionally stand a better chance at seeing results through personalization. Once again, the key is to double down on connecting with a specific subset of people rather than trying to appeal to everyone. 

Create a Brand That Matches Your Identity 

Establishing a unique restaurant identity means ensuring that your brand is evident and consistent in everything you do — and that it speaks to the audience you’re trying to reach. Customers should be able to understand who you are from the moment they discover your restaurant.

Using a custom reservation widget, sending emails with copy that exemplifies your brand voice and automating reminder texts that “sound” like “you” are ways you can let guests know what kind of dining experience they’re in for. 

Influencers Can Help (If You Know Who You’re Trying to Influence) 

In a world full of “self-professed” influencers, it’s important to partner with influencers who already speak to your customer base. Don’t just make decisions based on the number of followers alone. A micro-influencer with a niche following can sometimes achieve better results than a famous influencer with a “general” audience.

Applejack’s influencer approach is a perfect example of intentional influencer marketing. At one of their venues, Butler, both the Head Chef and the majority of customers are female, so the team launched a campaign that partnered with female business leaders. 

Identify Customer Personas to Inform…EVERYTHING

Comprehensive, well-researched personas help ensure your marketing efforts and customer communication are authentic and effective at every touchpoint

As Joanna says, “You could target everybody in the world and try and do different offers for everybody, but focusing on your key demographics works for us — so, two or three demographics you can really tailor messaging to. You may exclude some people with this level of detail, but if you stay true to your audience and brand identity, you’re more likely to succeed than if you were to spread yourself thin across a whole range of target audiences.”    

Attract Your Target Audience by Casting a Smaller Net

Don’t get us wrong, honing in on your target market doesn’t mean you need to stop looking for ways to attract and retain new business. It just means you need to understand who you are as a brand to make your marketing and operational decisions more informed and effective. 

SevenRooms gives you the tools you need to collect, store and analyze guest data. Our robust CRM makes it easy to recognize patterns and lean into what’s working. Automated email marketing allows you to send personalized emails with ease, so expressing your brand voice is possible at every turn. 

Restaurant Target Marketing FAQS:

Who Is the Target Market for Restaurants? 

The target market for restaurants is the group of people you aim to bring into your establishment. There are several main types of diners, each with specific preferences and dining patterns. 

What Is a Restaurant Market Segment? 

A market segment is essentially another way to describe breaking down your customer base into more targeted, specific groups. 

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