As consumer mobility increases even in the face of ongoing COVID-19 uncertainties, brands and retailers are looking to reconnect with their customers in the physical world. One of the places where businesses are looking to establish this in-person connection is the restaurant — which makes sense, given the central role that food plays in bringing people together.
On Monday (Aug. 9), American Express announced an upcoming touring outdoor restaurant event, the American Express Gold Card Pop-Up Diner, which will bring upscale diner foods to four major U.S. cities. Each stop of the tour, which is being launched in partnership with restaurant reservation platform Resy, will feature food from one of the city’s top Resy restaurants. Dine-in will only be available for American Express Gold Card holders, while takeout will be available to all.
In today’s connected economy, top brands are leveraging their offerings to grant consumers access to a suite of connected experiences. Given the immersive nature of restaurants, a handful of brands are creating dining events and spaces to establish deeper relationships with customers. In addition to being a potential source of revenue in and of themselves, these restaurants can also bring customers closer to the brand, encouraging them to engage with more products and services.
“In many ways, however, the decade of the 2010s was the warmup act for the transformation yet to come – the transition from an app economy to one in which connected ecosystems aggregate commerce experiences and enable transactions across channels, devices and environments,” Karen Webster explained in a January 2020 story.
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Since the start of the pandemic, this prediction has proved prescient, with the acceleration of the digital shift ushering connected consumers into these online ecosystems. PYMNTS research finds that the highly connected consumers who drive roughly 36 percent of online spend want a single ecosystem that brings together six of the eight connected economy pillars studied: how consumers work, shop, eat, bank, travel and have fun, connect with others, stay well and live. This Amex popup engages with the last six.
For example, the dating app Bumble is soon to open its first Bumble Brew café and wine bar in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. The opening was initially scheduled for July 24, though a company spokesperson told Globetrender last week that the date has been postponed due to “unexpected construction elements.”
The café is part of the app’s goal to extend its relationship with its users beyond their dating lives. As the company’s Founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd told TechCrunch in 2018, “Our users have shown us that they want to be a part of our brand in a deeper way, more than just using our product.”
Tesla, too, is considering opening a branded restaurant. In June, it was revealed that the company had filed three trademark applications that indicate its interest in the food service industry, all of which were submitted under the category of “restaurant services, pop-up restaurant services, self-service restaurant services, take-out restaurant services.” Previously, Musk had mentioned his interest in creating “an old school drive-in, roller skates & rock restaurant at one of the new Tesla Supercharger locations in LA,” a hope that he reiterated this past April.
Gonna put an old school drive-in, roller skates & rock restaurant at one of the new Tesla Supercharger locations in LA
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 7, 2018
Related news: Restaurant Roundup: Tesla Mulls Retro Diner
Similarly, in May, PepsiCo announced the debut of Pep’s Place, a virtual Pepsi-centric QSR. Though this delivery-only restaurant had no physical, consumer-facing presence, it created an opportunity for Pepsi to recenter the eating experience around the brand’s beverages. It is likely that as more businesses realize the power dining has to build relationships and create experiences, we will see more branded restaurants in the months and years ahead.