Category: Member Blog

Marketing Healthcare To Women: Do’s And Don’ts To Reach Your Target Market

By Design the Planet Member Blog

Provided by Design The Planet

Are you having trouble with patient growth or community awareness for your practice? Chances are your marketing message isn’t resonating with your target audience, and that audience could be predominately female.  According to the United States Department of Labor, women make up to 80% of all healthcare decisions for their family. No matter which medical field you practice in, women are making the majority of decisions on what care to receive and where to get it.

Marketing on a gender-focused campaign has always walked the line between successful and stereotypical because when marketing to women, gender is often the only demographic considered. There are more factors to consider when marketing to female decision makers such as: socioeconomic status, age, stage of life, caregiver roles, and their occupation all come into play. Their interest lies beyond a pink color-schemed Ad with a minivan full of kids. Women are more interested in authenticity, quality of service, specialization, and consistency when making healthcare decisions. They want reliable information, not fluff, and that is what you have to show them.

What works with women? Here’s a whole bunch of do’s and don’ts:

Women wearing masks

Do make use of social media.

Women still dominate social media usage over men on several sites, including Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. They use these sharing platforms not only to stay in touch with family and friends, but to seek out information. Women will most often research products and services online and over 70% make decisions based on reviews and recommendations found on social media. (Cox Business, Social Media Strategies in Marketing to Women).

Consider the way women share and consume data when crafting a message to them. We recommend developing a strong social media presence for your practice or healthcare service, and to incorporate images or infographics in your messages. Don’t be afraid to venture beyond the written word. People are 65% more likely to remember information presented to them in an image or through video.

Women relate to each other. DO Include their voice in your marketing strategy.

Women listen to the opinions of other women because they relate to each other on daily struggles and life experiences. It is a good idea to incorporate quotes from female nurses, physicians and patients in your marketing message; including elements of relatability can result in feelings of reliability and trustworthiness.

DO use audience segmentation in your marketing strategy. 

Women have many roles – they are sisters, mothers, wives, friends, athletes, daughters, college students, coworkers. Find out the demographic of your female audience. Do not sum up gender as the entire demographic. Every demographic has specific needs, interests, and language, so be sure to target your marketing messages specifically to a variety of these.

DO NOT hyper-focus on gender. 

There is a difference between gender targeting and gendered messaging, and the latter is often unsuccessful. According to a study by market research firm Fluent, 74% of women surveyed said they prefer gender-neutral marketing messages. In order to target women, there will be some gender-specific language involved, but remember, you are marketing to the human first and the woman second. People of all gender identities have healthcare needs. If there is too much focus on the concept of “women”, your message may come across as generalized or stereotypical to the female population.

DO NOT cling to the ‘Mom Stereotype’.

Believe it or not, women are more than just mothers. A campaign adorned with tulips and women pushing strollers may be overlooked, and worse, be perceived as condescending. They want to know that you see them more than just the caretaker of the household. If you are targeting an audience of mothers, keep in mind that you are talking to a woman first and a mother second.

The point is that women have been considered secondary to their partners throughout history and are not stereotypically recognized as the main decision-maker of their household. It’s time to reconsider how healthcare marketing speaks to women. Marketing your practice to female decision-makers so they understand how your services cater to their needs first, apart from gender or motherly roles, and then to the needs of their loved ones.

Should I build my own website or pay someone to do it for me?

By Design the Planet Member Blog

Behind The Smoke Screen of Squarespace and The Pitfalls of DIY Website Development

Provided by Design The Planet

Thanks to YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest and others, everyone is into DIY (Do-It-Yourself) these days. DIY is great for making hand-crafted candles or a holiday wreath, but we wouldn’t recommend it for a website that is supposed to represent your brand on the World Wide Web.

We’ve all heard the adage, “The lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.” and while they’re often told to, no physician really “heals thyself.” Having access to Web MD doesn’t equal years of medical school and experience any more than DYI website options like Squarespace, Weebly and Wix make you qualified to design/build your own website.

Man holding split wire

Many business owners are enticed by the seemingly cost-efficient and convenient templates, or the annual one-time service fees that Squarespace or Wix offers. They are convinced their internal marketers or maybe even their administrative assistants have the time and ability to knock one of these out for them. But do know, most successfully operating businesses need more than what the basic DIY templates offer, and you usually get what you pay for. Everyone wants to save money, but the issue is most people aren’t accomplishing that goal in the end. Internal marketers who start with the basic DIY package often discover they will have to pay more to get the platform’s designers involved at some point, and the results are generally lower quality than if they contracted a professional design team. The truth is, what seems like a money-saving tool often costs a company more money than expected and wastes a bunch of time.

Do-It-Yourself websites are okay options for hobbyists getting started or small micro-startups who can’t hire a professional web design team, but you should know the initial “savings” you receive by using these DIY services are a way of attracting you to their platform. The unrealized, hidden costs of these services quickly add up to similar price tags charged by agencies and design firms, but with one glaring difference: you’re stuck doing all the work! But that’s not the only pitfall to consider before jumping on the DIY bandwagon. Before you consider planning, designing and building your own website, you should know it will require an immense amount of time to get it done correctly.

Even a simple DIY site will take 23-30 hours to get up and running – really running – unless you have worked within a CMS before. Thirty hours at $125 per hour amounts to $3,750. DIY website services argue it will only take a couple of hours to set up a professional looking site, but users disagree, and the evidence is all over the web in the form of blogs and reviews. Additionally, if you need a more complex website with components like e-commerce, modern design features like parallax dynamics, or carefully designed UI/UX, the hours invested are more like 58-80 or approximately $10,000. Even if you have the time to invest in your site, you may want to consider all the skillsets that go into professional website construction:

  1. What level of expertise do you have planning website navigation, visitor flow, and structure? Can you make sure visitors don’t get frustrated or lost?
  2. Can you develop navigation and content to convert visitors and generate sales?
  3. What training do you have in SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? If your site isn’t cataloged properly with Google and Bing and users can’t find you, then what’s the website for anyway?
  4. Are you an experienced writer? While you may have a vast amount of knowledge about your industry and your brand, you will also need writing skills specific to website design. Content is king for search, and using the right words, grammar and sentence structure to make search engines happy is different than writing a blog, whitepaper or a proposal.
  5. How are you at selecting, editing and placing images? Do you know image-usage laws? What about load time management and descriptions? These are very important controls.
  6. If you run into a problem while working in the CMS template, how much time do you have to spend troubleshooting or on the phone with tech support? How much will that “support” cost you in addition to your time?
  7. After the website is launched, do you know how to look at and translate website analytics to see what’s working for you and where you need to make improvements?
  8. What about the task of relentlessly adding/changing content to maintain your hard-earned SEO rankings? Do you know if there are other site maintenance issues that will come up weeks or months after you launch your DIY site? Who’s watching for those?

The point is, many people are attracted to the idea of a DIY website but have no idea the amount of time and expertise required to do it correctly. For a well-branded, search-engine-optimized, sales-generating website that gets you the online visibility you want and need, consider hiring a professional website design and development team before you try to DIY.

Prioritize Your Professional Development Goals This Year

By AMA New Orleans Member Blog

Digital Marketing Pro Professional Certification

The New Year means new goals, new challenges and new digital marketing trends. It is also your opportunity to refresh your focus on career advancement by making your professional development goals a priority.

We’ve partnered with the Digital Marketing Institute on the Digital Marketing Pro certification program to help sharpen your skills and prove to employers you have the knowledge to lead change. The program focuses on in-demand digital marketing skills, including:

  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Paid Search (PPC) Using Google Ads
  • Display and Video Advertising
  • Email Marketing
  • Website Optimization
  • Google Analytics
  • Digital Marketing Strategy

And when you pass a single exam, you will become dually certified with the AMA and DMI with two respected credentials (for the price of one!): PCM® Digital Marketing and Certified Digital Marketing Professional.

Webinar Review: Staying Secure in 2022 and Beyond

By Michael Cook Member Blog

In December 2021, AMA New Orleans hosted Staying Secure in a Remote World, which discussed how companies, employees, and freelancers could improve their online security habits. The webinar featured security experts Vince Gremillion of Restech and Jack Reiner of Elliptical Hosting.

As more and more marketers transition to permanent remote work environments, businesses will need to take extra precautions to ensure their data remains safe when accessed outside the safety and confines of company networks and firewalls. Our panel discussed how businesses and individuals can protect themselves against new and emerging threats.

What are the biggest cybersecurity risks to companies?

Personal devices and (unprotected) home networks are two of the biggest potential exploits for hackers. “Most home networks don’t have strong wifi keys, and possibly even use default passwords on their devices,” explained Vince Gremillion. He used a hypothetical example of a home security camera that required the user to open a port in their firewall in order to view the camera feed, which could lead to exploit.

Vince recommended the use of virtual desktops when asked about having employees use their work computers instead of personal devices. Jack Reiner agreed. He added, “I’ve used a virtual desktop for years now, and this way if anything ever happens to the laptop I use, it doesn’t matter. The purpose of the laptop is only to login to the virtual desktop. And that’s behind firewalls, it’s backed up and well-protected, and can be regenerated quickly if anything goes wrong.”

Both panelists discussed the increase of phishing attacks post-pandemic. Most people know not to click suspicious links or download executable files in emails, but when employees are isolated at home, these attacks are more likely since they can’t simply ask their coworker next to them if they meant to send a particular email.

Working from non-office environments

Both panelists warned against connecting to public wifi at cafes, coffee shops, etc. There’s no guaranteed security from public networks; they’re there for convenience. Vince recommended rolling your own VPN with Amazon or Azure rather than using commercial VPN services. “The problem with commercial options is you don’t know what their servers are doing or what kind of agreements they have with various governments,” said Vince.

Going beyond VPNs, Vince discussed the use of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) services and device-level authorization, which authorizes the devices allowed to connect to a network. These solutions are common at the enterprise level but will become more accessible for smaller businesses in the future.

Increased security controls and email deliverability

Jack Reiner discussed email deliverability issues when using third-party email marketing services like MailChimp or Constant Contact. There are specific DNS records that whitelist the servers that are allowed to send email from your domain. Failure to make the requisite DNS changes can result in bouncebacks and potential blacklisting because the email came from servers not authorized to send on behalf of that domain.

Why all websites are targets for hackers

It’s not unreasonable to think your small mom-and-pop website won’t be a target for hackers, but this is incorrect. Every web server can also function as an email server, and spammers are always looking for a clean IP to propagate spam. If they can hack your site, then they can send spam from your site. Hackers can also embed redirects into a webpage to take users offsite to malicious URLs.

Jack noted that most attacks are automated (bots), so hackers aren’t necessarily targeting specific websites.

To protect your website, Jack stressed the need for malware scanning at the server level. External malware monitoring can only scan the files it can see, whereas internal scans can scan all of the files on the server.

Cloud vs. Local Security

With more people working from home, cloud-based file sharing services like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, etc. have exploded in popularity. We asked our panelists if storing files in the cloud was more secure than storing offline.

Vince said the cloud was more secure IF … you protect it with strong passwords and multi-factor authentication, it’s backed up, and it’s encrypted. Your laptop can be lost or stolen, and most likely you’re not encrypting your device or using multi-factor authentication to access it.

If you’re synchronizing files to your desktop from Google Drive, OneDrive, etc. then you still need to encrypt your computer. An issue with encryption is that encryption keys are stored in memory. If you just close your laptop and it goes into suspend mode, then the keys can be taken out of memory and your laptop can be decrypted. People need to make it a habit to turn off their devices to take full advantage of encryption security.

Staying safe going forward

Vince recommended using a password vault to store strong passwords. Do NOT save the passwords in your browser. Also use two-factor authentication whenever available.

Jack advised against sharing too much personal information on social media. Privacy laws do not protect you if you divulge personal information voluntarily. Many Facebook timelines are filled with (seemingly innocuous) games and trivia that can be used to harvest vast amounts of user data to be used for nefarious purposes.

Most importantly, you are ultimately responsible for your own security and your own data. If it’s going to hurt you to lose it, then you need to do everything you can to ensure you’re protected.

Event Recap — Festivals Forever: How CMO’s Are Navigating Change

By Sam Olmsted Member Blog

New Orleans is known for its richness in culture, music, food, people, and, of course, festivals. Festivals combine all our city’s passions and manifest themselves as an afternoon block party, a two-week extravaganza, and everything in between. 

In our recent event, Festivals Forever: How CMO’s Are Navigation Change, we spoke with the leaders of some of New Orleans’ most well-known festivals to understand how they have adapted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our discussion was moderated by Mark Romig, Chief Marketing Officer of New Orleans & Company, who spoke with an impressive panel that included:

While each of these panelists works hard to put on their festivals, each festival is vastly different from the others in regards to their missions, audiences, demographics, and budgets. In a typical year, New Orleans would host over 130 festivals, bringing in over 19 million visitors and over $10 billion in direct spending in the city.

What Did New Orleans Festivals Do in 2020?

In 2020, all of these festivals were put on hold, dramatically altering the cultural and economic landscape of the city. Each festival embraced a different approach in reaction to the setback. 

Jazz Fest, the largest and longest-running of the three festivals, took the lead in their response. After canceling the festival in 2020, Jazz Fest worked with its partners, specifically WWOZ, to start a movement they called “Festing in Place.” Traditionally, the marketing behind Jazz Fest is very grassroots. Most notably, the lineup release gets shared organically across social media. Festing in Place gave Jazz Fest fans a time to celebrate by themselves alongside an entire digital community. People flocked to social media to share how, when, and in what manner they were Festing in Place, creating a format that could be followed by other festivals. “Festing in Place was obviously a huge success, emotionally more than anything,” Goldman stated. 

For Beignet Fest and other charitable festivals, their cause helped keep interest alive. Collins noted that a call-to-action corresponding with the idea of Festing in Place would allow the festival to make its grants and continue with its original mission of embracing and enhancing the lives of children with developmental delays and disabilities.

Hogs for the Cause took yet another approach. This festival is mainly driven by individual teams who spend months preparing for this event. After canceling the festival in 2020, the festival leaders wanted to remain committed to those participants, worrying that they may move on and gain other interests. Hogs for the Cause came roaring back in 2021, this time with limited capacity. Interestingly enough, the limited capacity and the city’s craving for live events meant that the festival sold out almost immediately.

How Does Festival Marketing Work in New Orleans?

Marketing for New Orleans festivals has changed over the years. With the rise of digital marketing and social media, many festival organizers are pushing their budgets online. However, our panelists recognized that you first have to understand your audience and segment your messaging based on demographics. 

When discussing Jazz Fest, Goldman mentioned that local radio is still a large driving force to get people to the event. With each station, you have to highlight different headliners in your ads to address the specific audience. For Beignet Fest, Collins noted that there are typically two audiences she speaks to — those interested in the festival and those interested in their charitable mission. Knowing where those audiences spend their time can help her direct her marketing budget to the right spaces. Finally, Hall mentions that his audiences on Facebook are different from those on Instagram, and he changes his Hogs for the Cause messaging accordingly for each platform. 

Every panelist touched on the fact that sponsors and partners are a huge part of their marketing plan. By leveraging existing relationships and partners with a shared interest, festivals are able to get their message to a much wider audience. They mentioned the importance of grassroots social media posts as a way to bring authenticity to their message and promote it even further in the digital landscape. 

When discussing how they use vendors to market the festivals, each had a different response. “Our food vendors are some of our biggest ambassadors,” said Collins. “We’ve been able to leverage larger brands. We love when our food vendors advocate for us.” Goldman noted: “Our vendors are participants. They’re a part of the festival at this point. They’ve been out there 20, 30, or 40 years. They have always been part of the branding and part of the ambassadors.” Hall added, “Our teams are our biggest ambassadors.”

Marketing Festivals After COVID-19

Moving forward, every festival organizer hopes to get back to pre-pandemic levels of participation. Despite the minor setbacks, they are energized by the continued interest in their events and the resiliency of their fans and participants. We hope to see them all at the next festival so we can continue to embrace the cultural and economic benefits of these events.

Sign up for upcoming AMA New Orleans events today!

October Luncheon to Feature Artificial Intelligence in Marketing

By Tristan Babin Blog

AMA’s October Luncheon, which will feature artificial intelligence in marketing, is set for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 18 at Greater New Orleans (GNO) Inc. at 1100 Poydras Street in New Orleans

Elonide Semmes

The luncheon will be hosted by Right Hat founder Elonide Semmes who will discuss how artificial intelligence is transforming industry, where it can be found in business and what ethical and legal implications it may have.

Semmes founded Right Hat specifically to help companies and schools better articulate their intangible value. Where many branding agencies are hyperfocused on the design of marketing materials, she marries exceptional design with deep thinking about how buyers think. Most recently she led an 18-month initiative for the International Legal Marketing Association (LMA) on artificial intelligence. She is also a member of the LMA Hall of Fame..

Get Tickets

Tickets are $10 for members $25 for non-members and are available here. 

The New Orleans Chapter of the American Marketing Association is a professional organization run by a volunteer board that serves the local marketing community by providing educational programming, resources and networking opportunities. More information about AMA New Orleans can be found at

AMA March Luncheon to Feature Neuroscientist

By Tristan Babin Blog

Head Neuroscientist Ryan McGarry with SPARK Neuro is set to speak to marketing professionals at 11:30 a.m. at a March 21 luncheon at Fidelity Bank 1811 Metairie Avenue Metairie LA 70005.

The New Orleans chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) is sponsoring the luncheon that will be open to both members and non-members.

In addition to serving as the head neuroscientist, McGarry also serves as the vice president at SPARK Neuro; a company that uses advanced neuroscience tools to measure audience engagement. Currently, McGarry leads research studies involving biometric devices including eye tracking, facial expression recognition, Electroencephalography (EEG) measuring brain activity, Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) measuring nervous system activity, and heart rate measurement.

AMA New Orleans organizes monthly luncheons to invite speakers from around the country to educate marketing professionals on topics including: social media, customer acquisition, positioning and public relations.

Get Tickets

Tickets are $30 for non-members of AMA, $20 for members and are available on the organization’s website here.

The New Orleans Chapter of the American Marketing Association is a professional organization run by a volunteer board that serves the local marketing community by providing educational programming, resources and networking opportunities. More information about AMA New Orleans can be found at

“Know me!” —The Personalization Revolution

By AMA New Orleans Member Blog

By Sandra Jordan, MNI Targeted Media

Knowing your consumers and their habits will be the key to engagement and success in 2016.

  • 56% of consumers say that the most important element of their retail experience is that the information shared with them online is relevant to what they are currently interested in or looking to buy.
  • 52% want relevant content that considers their personal taste, style, age group, or location.
  • 36% of shoppers say real-time, personalized offers on their mobile devices as they enter a store would enhance their shopping experience.

*Source: eMarketer, August 2015; eMarketer, October 2015.


Let’s Get Personal

Consumer-facing businesses are tackling the challenge of personalization. Get ahead of the competition and reach the consumers who are most likely to move your bottom line.

  • Consumer Targeting—Reach consumers who frequently shop online, based on their browsing behavior, online purchases, and shopping cart abandonment.
  • Influencer Marketing—Partner with key people who have influence over your potential consumers and who are in-market for your products.
  • Contextual Targeting—Reach customers who are visiting relevant shopping content.
  • Search and Site Retargeting—Target individuals who are constantly seeking information online.
  • In-App Targeting—Reach shoppers who are constantly glued to their devices.
  • Geo-Fencing—Serve ads to consumers who are performing searches on their mobiles in-store.

Value-Based Pricing Strategy

By AMA New Orleans Member Blog

One of the main issues faced when releasing a new product or service is how much to charge. There are many different pricing strategies; however, few companies use a pricing strategy that is focused on the customer as opposed to the product or service. Value-based pricing is a pricing strategy which sets the price of the product or service on the perceived or estimated value to the customer rather than on the cost of the product, competitor prices, or historical prices.

Traditional pricing strategies do not incorporate market research to determine the optimal price for the product or service. With value-based pricing, research (typically in the form of a survey and multivariate statistical modeling) is conducted so the product or service is launched with minimal to no adverse effect on consumer perception due to incorrect pricing. Determining the optimal price for a product or service is critical to its success. Charge too much, and the product or service will not sell; charge too little, and your product or service is fixed in the market at a low level. Of the two, charging too little is by far the worst choice as raising a products’ price often proves to be extremely difficult.

Q2 Value Graph

Calculating the optimal price point is a science. According to a McKinsey & Company analysis of the typical S&P 1500 company, a price rise of 1%, if volumes remain stable, can lead to a profit increase of 8%. However, the opposite also stands true, a price of 1% less than the optimal price can lead to a loss of 8% of its potential profit. Changes in variable costs such as lower material cost and labor do not impact profit margins nearly as much as having correct pricing. While some companies believe that a lower price will lead to increased sales volumes, this rarely happens. In the same McKinsey & Company analysis, volumes have to rise by almost 19% to offset a 5% price cut.

So how do we determine the value of a product or service to consumers to determine the optimal price? There are several methodologies that may be employed on their own or in conjunction with others. One of the classic approaches is using the Van Westendorp method with a Revenue Forecast Extension. The method asks consumers a series of questions relating to their purchasing intent based on price. Next, a range of acceptable prices and an optimum price point based on an analysis of price and value ratings obtained from consumers is calculated. The Revenue Forecast Extension is then used to determine the optimal price taking purchase intent into account.

Another approach used is the Discrete Choice Model. Consumers are asked to choose between two or more hypothetical products or services at different price levels. The resulting model includes a simplified description of reality that provides a better understanding of how consumers make their choice. A well-constructed model allows for multiple scenarios within the model and can optimize price and brand position. With Discrete Choice, a company can project their potential market share among key competitors.

A newer methodology is Maximum Difference (Maxdiff). Maxdiff uses customer trade off rather than usual rating scales responses. Consumers identify the best and worst choice from a variety of groupings of three or more products or services at different prices. The order of questions is randomized and price levels are randomly assigned. A discrete choice model and a simulator are developed. Modification of price within the simulator allows the client to quickly identify what happens to demand as price increases or decreases.

The application of Monte Carlo Simulation to pricing takes in to account the customer’s price value perception, product, variable fixed costs, and market size. Several levels of price are tested for a given product. The resulting analysis shows the penetration of the product or service at each price point. Typically the model output is presented in an Excel spreadsheet. The key benefit of this approach is that it allows the client to run multiple “what if” scenarios by changing the parameters in the worksheet.

There are various methods to determine the optimal price for a product or service based on the perceived or estimated value to the customer. A value-based pricing strategy allows companies to launch new products and services with reduced risk and confidence that the success will not be hindered by sub-optimal pricing.


Xavier Alvarez is a Project Analyst at Q2 Insights, a market research consulting firm with offices in San Diego and New Orleans.

Identifying Restaurant Choice Decision Drivers Using Research

By AMA New Orleans Member Blog

When making a restaurant choice what is often first discussed is the proximity of the restaurant, the time available to dine (a quick bite to eat or a leisurely meal) and the type of cuisine desired. However, there are many other critical drivers of restaurant choice that are at work in our minds though not often discussed with our dining companions. These elements may be summed to the way a restaurant makes us feel. People don’t usually discuss how a restaurant makes them feel when making a restaurant choice. These feelings tend to be subliminal, though they are critical. How a restaurant “presents itself” overall tends to have a huge impact on choice.

Restaurateurs often engage researchers to identify what attracts guests to their restaurant, what they need to keep doing or do more of to keep guest coming back, and what changes they need to make to attract more guests. Too often the research conducted focuses on the obvious, such as the menu, and it fails to uncover all the critical elements of the restaurant experience that drive restaurant choice. (Menu optimization is, of course, critical to any restaurant … but that’s a topic for another blog post.) Restaurant choice is not just about the menu, but the way the restaurant makes people feel.

Any researcher specializing in restaurants worth her salt will delve deeply into understanding not just the rational and oft discussed drivers of behavior, but the emotional drivers of behavior. As we delve into understanding behavioral drivers of restaurant choice we must also consider the atmosphere, the servers, the interactions, operations, environmental factors and other factors.

Let’s delve more deeply, beyond menu selection and flavor or quantity of food, into two of the several key attributes to consider when generating insights about the drivers of restaurant choice.


Consumers are not particularly adept at describing a restaurant atmosphere. To crack this nut, it is useful to employ projective techniques to uncover both the rational and emotional elements of atmosphere. Some restaurants are sophisticated and exciting, some are a comfortable hole in the wall and are the best kept secret in town, some are edgy, hip and cool. In addition to what might be visually apparent, some restaurants might make some feel like they are “snuggled up in a comfy quilt” while others might make them feel “rushed, unimportant, and just a number.”

It is important to describe the restaurant atmosphere and it is crucial to marry a thorough understanding of atmosphere to other critical factors such as:

  • The personality characteristics of those who are most likely to be attracted to the restaurant
  • The place and time of the person, couple or group making the decision (e.g. a midday work lunch or just completing a 30 mile morning bike ride)
  • Whether the restaurant lends itself to planned or spur of the moment dining


Most of us know that how we are treated from the time we walk in the door to the time we walk out the door can make or break a dining experience. But what are the underlying emotional drivers that affect the service experience? Often, during qualitative depth interviews with restaurant guests, examples of not feeling welcomed, not feeling appreciated, and to some extent being ignored or forgotten are shared both when researchers probe directly as well as spontaneously when guests answer seemingly unrelated questions. Some restaurants leave guests feeling they are “one in the herd” while others leave guests feeling “they are happy to see me” or even “part of the family.” How one feels they are served is woven through the entire dining experience and affects restaurant choice.

It is important to cross-examine these feelings and needs with factors such as:

  • Guest profiles
  • The frequency with which guests visit the restaurant
  • Needs states addressed by the restaurant

There are many drivers of restaurant choice beyond the assumed menu selection and food flavor, portion, and value that is often associated with it. Proximity of the restaurant, the time available to dine (a quick bite to eat or a leisurely meal) and the type of cuisine desired are obvious drivers, but a strong undercurrent of emotional drivers often trump the rational drivers and should be explored thoroughly to understand their impact on choice.

Kirsty Nunez is founder and President of Q2 Insights. Lori Enfield is Senior Market Research Project Manager at Q2 Insights. Q2 Insights, Inc., is a market research consulting firm with offices in San Diego and New Orleans.

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