Did you know that over 1 billion individuals across 190 countries come together on April 22nd to celebrate and protect our planet? Since 1970, Earth Day has propelled an environmental movement composed of citizens, activists and consumers of all ages.
For restaurant owners, Earth Day and Earth Month present key opportunities to showcase brand values, engage with consumers and innovate menu items to reflect your commitments to sustainability. Plant-based offerings, recycled packaging and eliminating plastic are just a few of the many ways to make an impact, and in this blog, we’re highlighting other restaurant marketing tips to give you ideas to make the most of this year’s Earth Day.
BUILD BUZZ ABOUT YOUR EARTH DAY INITIATIVES IN STORE
There are dozens of ways you can celebrate Earth Month in order to get customers of all ages in the door. Take Starbucks for example. They created the Starbucks Earth Month game(opens in a new tab) which gives Starbucks® Rewards members a chance to win more than 2.5 million prizes, cast a vote towards tree reforestation projects, and learn more about the Starbucks Planet Positive(opens in a new tab) commitment to become a resource positive company. Throughout the game, players will earn additional “plays” by participating in weekly activities – from saying “no” to single-use plastic straws and trying meatless breakfast sandwiches like the Impossible™ Breakfast Sandwich, to voting for their favorite nondairy beverage or reading articles about combatting food waste.
STARBUCKS IMPOSSIBLE BREAKFAST SANDWICH. PHOTO CREDIT: STARBUCKS WEBSITE
This is an excellent promotion that leans into the momentum generated by Earth Month by inspiring consumers to use their dollars for environmental causes while rewarding them. If you don’t have an app or the budget to create a promotion of this nature, there are other things you can do online and in store to celebrate your initiatives and attract more customers.
PLANT-BASED MENU ITEMS
Earth Day menu items are a hit because they make consumers feel like they are using their dollar to make a difference, especially among environmentally conscious Gen Z and Millennials.
7 IN 10 GEN Z AND MILLENNIALS REPORT CARING ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY AS A VALUE AND THE MAJORITY AGREE THAT THEY ARE WILLING TO SPEND MORE ON FOOD PRODUCTS THAT DON’T HARM THE ENVIRONMENT.*
Monthly consumption of plant-based meat is also being driven by younger consumers, with 55% of Gen Z consuming it monthly, followed by Millennials at 49%. What’s more, plant-based meat consumption is increasing across all demographics who eat plant-based meat products, with the highest increases being Gen Z and Millennials (66% and 68% respectively).*
This means that Earth Month is the perfect opportunity to showcase your commitment to sustainability by creating delicious dishes using Impossible™ Burger or Impossible™ Sausage Made From Plants.
EARTH MONTH PRODUCTS
You can also sell limited edition Earth Month products in store, including branded merchandise like tote bags or t-shirts, reusable cups & metal straws with your name and logo. With each product, offer to donate a percentage of sales to sustainable projects or NGOs that focus on planting trees, eliminating plastic, or conservation efforts.
Earth Month is the perfect time to give consumers an incentive to visit your restaurant and try a new plant-based product. Whether you are celebrating the holiday or just promoting your new Impossible™ menu item, try bundling promotional items together for a special price or offer a discount. You can then highlight those products in your social channels to let customers know.
Other promotional ideas include providing a free sustainable gift with the purchase of an Earth Day menu item or donating a percentage of sales to a sustainable cause.
IN STORE MARKETING
Your restaurant is the perfect canvas to promote your Earth Month initiatives. If you want free assets that consumers will love, head over to our partner store(opens in a new tab). You can order free POS materials, table tents, to go boxes, posters, door clings, stickers, toothpicks or window clings to showcase that you serve plant-based products like the Impossible Burger.
You can also build your own by highlighting plant-based items on your menus, painting creative green elements on the walls with washable chalk or offering coloring books for kids. Those are fun elements that both parents and children will appreciate, which is important to consider because children play a big role in influencing purchasing decisions.
CHILDREN & TEENS PLAY A BIG ROLE IN INFLUENCING PURCHASING DECISIONS, WITH 77% OF FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN IN THE HOUSEHOLD REPORTING THEY DECIDE WHERE TO EAT OUT AT RESTAURANTS TOGETHER.**
In 2020, millennials spent 3.7 hours per day on their smartphones, followed by Gen X at 3 hours and Baby Boomers at 2.5. That means that your ideal customers are online, no matter what age group they belong to. If you want to capture their attention, here are channels to create a digital presence:
Social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Youtube)
Delivery platforms (Yelp, Grubhub, Doordash)
Once you’ve decided where you want to show up, build a plan around your Earth Month activities and spread the news! Highlight your special menu items on your website and create branded elements to include on third party platforms.
A good Earth Month social plan should include 1-2 posts per week on each of your social channels highlighting your sustainability initiatives, interviews with staff & customers, new menu items, user generated content, contests...be creative! Make sure to include #earthmonth or #earthday and your location in each post so that consumers can find you.
The week of Earth Day (4/22), increase your posting to 2X daily to get customers excited and in the door. If budget allows, you can also create paid advertising campaigns on your most popular social channels to advertise your Earth Month Promotions, products or plant-based menu items, especially those with Impossible Foods, like this image we posted on our Instagram channel(opens in a new tab):
IMPOSSIBLE™ PASTA DISH ON INSTAGRAM
Close up shots of drool-worthy menu items, 5 second videos and Gifs that capture attention are great ways to get viewers to click on an ad that will take them to your menu page.
If you want to reach a bigger audience, bring in younger consumers, build trust for your brand and drive sales, influencers are a great channel to explore.
72% OF GEN Z AND MILLENNIALS SAY THEY FOLLOW AT LEAST SOME INFLUENCERS° AND 63% OF INTERNET USERS AGED 6-17 SAID THEY WERE WATCHING VIDEOS MADE BY FRIENDS OR INFLUENCERS ON A PHONE OR TABLET IN THE PAST THREE MONTHS.**
Influencers can be an affordable option for restaurants of all sizes regardless of budget, especially if you target accounts that are:
Current customers or
Have a following less than 5K
Once you’ve found the right influencer, reach out and share your campaign, why you think they’re a good fit and the environmental impact their participation could help create to get them on board. Then, negotiate a rate per post that fits within your marketing budget, share a campaign timeline and give creative guidelines to help them create content that your core audience will find irresistible.
IMPOSSIBLE BURGER PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM @JAYTEETAKESABITE(opens in a new tab)
Contests are another way to get customers excited about your menu, share user generated content and to make your brand more front and center online. Ask your viewers to suggest a name for your new plant-based menu item, tag a friend who would love to eat an Impossible™ menu item at your restaurant, or to post photos of them eating your food and to tag you in the photo.
Regardless of what you end up doing for Earth Month, remember to create campaigns that align with your brand and resonate with your audience. Be authentic to your mission and keep in mind that younger consumers are a key demographic to target this month given their passion for sustainability and growing love of plant-based meat.
* Generation IF April 2019
** Mintel Reports US, Kids' Impact on Household Decisions, 2020
*** www.entrepreneur.com/article/360098 'Which Generation Is Most Dependent on Smartphones? (Hint: They're Young.)' 2020.