We are all aware of the influential impact of social media. But to what extent is it affecting what we want to do and crucially, what we want to spend our hard-earned money on? A recent study conducted by Awario suggests that social networks influence a massive 74% of consumers in their purchasing decisions, whether that be purchasing “things” or “experiences”.
Social media is encouraging a shift in behaviour; people strive to enjoy an experience that provides perfect content for Instagram rather than an experience that may not be as photo-friendly, but more enjoyable. Taking the example of the restaurant industry, we have all witnessed individuals whipping their phones out to take photos of their food as soon as it arrives to the table. This is then shared on social media, and others are sufficiently “influenced” to want either the same experience, or something very similar.
According to Italian restaurant chain Zizzi, 18-35-year olds spend five whole days a year browsing food images on Instagram. Studies also show that 30% would avoid a restaurant if their Instagram was perceived to be weak by comparison.
Appearances clearly matter. These 18-35 year olds are viewing a restaurants social media to see what the food looks like, rather than visiting for taste and atmosphere alone. Why? Because social media relies on individuals presenting a perfect version of themselves to impress their peers. It’s proven that human beings LOVE recommendations and social media is akin to a personal recommendation. In the age of social media, a beautiful image posted by a friend or someone we admire is all we need to be sufficiently “influenced” to want the experience for ourselves.
This means great things for the hospitality industry. People are constantly searching Instagram whether through hashtags or geotags for the most aesthetically pleasing experiences they can share with their friends. If restaurants are committed to making their food and site itself look "instagrammable", consumers are willing to spend more. In recent years, there have been a surge in restaurants installing flower walls, angel wings and even bathtubs full of balls. Why? By creating these gimmicky "honeytraps" they’re more likely to be shared on social media and thus welcome more guests through their doors.
(a honeytrap outside a Liverpool restaurant)
This rise in social media marketing (by both consumers and restaurants) has lead to restaurant growth year on year. People are favouring experiences over things like never before, and as a business you can use this to your advantage. If you are a decision maker of a business and looking for new and innovative ideas to reward your employees or customers, why not consider offering a lifestyle benefit that offers discounts on experiences.
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