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Hong Kong restaurants - Ways to survive during Covid-19

Restaurant Marketing and PR TIPS photo credit to freepick

Restaurant Marketing and PR TIPS

Unlike other countries, Hong Kong government is yet announcing a complete lock-down policy to control Corona virus outbreak. Instead of being no-choice like other restaurants group in the world by having a sharp door closing of their bars and restaurants. There are still rooms of HK marketing and PR team to act promptly and face the challenges.

Government Anti-Epidemic Fund for supporting local restaurant

Eligible food licence holders fulfilling the following criteria can now apply to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) for a grant of one-off subsidy. A one-off subsidy of $200,000 will be provided to eligible licence holders of the premises in operation including general restaurants, marine restaurants and factory canteens; and a subsidy of $80,000 will be provided to eligible licence holders of the premises in operation including light refreshment restaurants, fresh provision shops, food factories, bakeries and siu mei and lo mei shops. (For Details) Deadline of application: 4 Mar 2020.

WE STILL NEED TO DO BRANDING & MARKETING during virus outbreak!!

Well, this is quite a big term which cannot specify the kind of campaign that suits your brand best during this downtime. I am sure all of the brands have been working hard on updating content for their social communities. So what else does a digital marketer or PR need to do on top of regular jobs that are already managed.

Less footprint on the street, and discouraging atmosphere of group dining, does not mean that a group has to cut- off the whole marketing / PR team to get the firm survive.

Tactic 01: Social Media Content bring back customer’s confidence:

Regular Hygiene related statement that your restaurants pledged to protect every single of the customers.

Staffs temperature check every day;All staffs to be wearing mask at all time and washing hands regularly;Daily restaurant cleansing arrangement;Kitchen cleanliness update include staffs. Are staffs in the kitchen wearing gloves, head cover, mask etc. Recalling our experience to run Branding and PR programme for Pret a Manger, their kitchen cleanliness is in top priority. All of our Agency PR staffs are enrolled into a orientation training, with each of us getting into the kitchen and see how they make sure their food are clean. They have alarms set regularly inside their kitchens, staffs are ceased to run any current work , but to wash hand as well as clean kitchen table before they resume their work. This is nothing to do with business secret, but we were told that this is one of the brand selling point. I am sure your customers would like to know more about how you defense them from virus with your restaurant hygiene policy;You may consider to update your new options of offering customer having their own disposable spoon and folk if you have this resources.

Tactic 02: Competitive & market research

In what way that this kind of research helps your brand ? Firstly you know what other brands is doing and their plan to face the market Impact. Secondly, you know what bring the market attention if you are going to run a promotion.

For example: in running a competitor research for one of our F&B group clients, their competitor has been promoting their in-house delivery services. Paying SEM marketing and running the programme. Running research about the incoming organic and paid traffic going to competitor website, you will get to know what source and marketing campaign concretely attracted your shared target customer group, and in what way they are gaining sales. This helps you create your coming campaign with out testing market’s adaptation.

In the meantime, we find that there is the increasing keyword searching in local search engine recently.

(above) Latest 30 days Popular Search in Google in Food Industry, Hong Kong Market

Recommendation: In house delivery is one thing to consider, but not every restaurant managed to setup the delivery website in time. And manpower of delivery may be another concern. Yet, competitors research is definitely giving you a picture on how to run your coming campaign. Broaden competitor search with more brand names providing your PR agency/ Strategic brand consultant, may also provide you more pictures on the market and clues for your to ride on.

Tactic 03: Instant Sales and promotional discount

Running an instant sales and promotional discount programme is nothing new to marketers. Tiding up your discount or promotional idea with the below categories may also worth a consideration:

  • Entertainment Gift card: Netflix, Music, Gaming

  • Shopping gift card: Zalora Gift Card

  • Microsoft Office gift card.

  • Luxury online shopping giftcard : Lane Crawford gift card, net-a-porter gift card etc.

You may browse 7-eleven website, or find from search engine to get more details on how to get the gift card. Yet, the key point of getting gift for clients is what CALL-TO-ACTION you want to drive for! Do you want your client visit your restaurant for dinner? Do you want to pair this gift to draw more online delivery during EASTER or enroll this gift in your delivery service provide , foodpanda/ deliveroo/ uber? Or do you want to achieve the brand awareness and gain customer’s loyalty?

Once created your campaign theme and decided gifts or discount to offer. How do you promote and strategically target your customers? Email campaign, Retargeting Advertising to your own advocates, your competitor’s customers in facebook and google, Getting registration landing page prepared to enhance your CRM database, post registration followup of another series of retargeting emails.

Do not think of relying facebook post for getting high campaign engagement and impression, do you know only few percent of your facebook fans will be able to see your facebook regular post if you don’t make post? Even is you do boosting post of facebook, you may not reach your targeted audiences enough, this is why some marketer hire agency to run them the google and facebook retargeting campaign to enhance the sales conversion. The cost of running email campaign and re-targeting advertising is not un-affordable for most of the brands, consult your agency to check out the whole picture of setting campaign pipeline, and what to bring to you a measurable campaign with the most conversion.

Tactic 04: Boost Take-away services:

Take away services, is not delivery services.

Message from foodpanda during peak hour of food delivery in Mar 2020 (Above)

You may have already partnered with Hong Kong Top food delivery platform (Uber eat, Foodpanda, Deliveroo). Hoping to bring sales to your restaurants to compensate your low dine-in challenges. Yet, this is the fact that, local delivery apps are witnessed to have encountered overloading orders. That the customer may not be able to enjoy your food by ordering through the app. The delivery time may be exceeding 45 min during peak order hours too (experience as shared by some food delivery app users).

To tackle, one may consider boosting in-person take away menu during NON-PEAK hour. Promoting exclusive menu or discount for next purchase, or instant gift discount for in-person take away customers may help.

Tactic 05: Bring a new dining experience

Food delivery is no longer Fast- food predominant, high end french restaurants, 5* hotel / Michelin restaurant are all joining force to delivery platform. This new era of food delivery culture, brought the market another option of Luxury food delivery experience. It depends on how you design your LUXURY 5* Food Delivery Journey for your prestige customers, we still see there is room to explore. Your creativity of designing your NEW customers food tasting experience, tasting menu delivery options, exclusive wine and food pairing delivery package, delivery your food and serve with branded dishes and bowl, say partnering with popular brand Le Creuset; Or more creative idea, depending on your business offering. Hong Kong market is definitely ready to spend.

Once your menu & offering is confirmed , you next steps of course, is to announce it and promote it. Press Relation to food media, KOL campaign of tasting this delivery experience, email campaign, retargeting advertising, social media post creation for this specific campaign. Maybe an agency or branding consultant will be taken into it for quick design and execution for maximization of noise, propagation and conversion.

About SWAH

PR and marketing expertise in digital world, concrete 13+ market experience who is confident to partner with marketers and brand owners, to face and run the most suitable pr & marketing campaign with updated omni-channel setup and face the unprecedented marketing challenges. SWAH re-evaluate your PR and marketing plans to ensure approaches embraces consistency, seamlessness, and most importantly aligned narrative that pledge your brand and its offerings. Ensuring this narrative to be based on personas to experience creation for audience to unfold your brand value and eventually become your advocates.


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