13 of the Most Influential Marketing Leaders in the Restaurant Industry

Vice President of Marketing

Wings and Rings

When Diane Matheson thinks about the past year in the restaurant industry, she comes back to a common quote: “There are decades when nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades happen. »

The pandemic has brought monumental changes to business: how restaurants operate, market, overcome financial pressures and even how they care about their employees and communities, Matheson says.

“The situation was and is scary, but it’s also inspiring to see how people and brands are adapting and the kindness everyone is showing,” Matheson said. “It really is a time when, in a matter of weeks, we have seen changes that normally take decades. It was a year that woke up the world.

Matheson’s best lessons of the year:

Appreciate everyone. From frontline workers to CEOs to truckers delivering food.

Stay resilient. “It’s important to ‘future’ your brand,” says Matheson. “Be prepared for the unexpected, anticipate future scenarios and outcomes, and be ready to adapt and change wisely when needed with scalable and effective plans to avoid business disruption. With foresight and preparation, you can prepare the brand for the next rippling disruptor, be it societal, technological or economic.

Stay connected, she says, because nothing replaces human interaction.

And finally, Matheson says, “Collaboration is key: we broke down silos, hierarchies and roles from departments and got to work resolving issues quickly without the tension of job titles when the pandemic hit. . And it worked, we had a team of problem solvers that came together to tackle the challenges. It was a beautiful thing to see, and today we are reimagining new models of collaborative working. »

Prior to directing marketing for Wings and Rings, Matheson served as Director of Brand at LPK, a global brand design agency, where she led the restoration of some of the world’s most recognizable brands including Pantene, Oil of Olay and Herbal Essences.

Looking ahead to next year, Matheson predicts that restaurants will engage in a battle for the “takeaway customer” beyond the simple pick-up experience.

“Fast food, casual restaurants and high-end brands will compete for what was traditionally a fast food occasion,” says Matheson. “Brands that figure out how to bring the interaction, fun and community experience from onsite to offsite will emerge.”

She also believes this shift in focus to offsite will include reduced onsite dining and smaller footprints. Nutrition will play a bigger role on the menu scene as consumers seek health and wellness, and restaurants will look to menu changes and automation to address labor shortages current work.

When it comes to Wings and Rings, Matheson says the brand is focused on providing its own on-the-go VIP experience.

“From ordering to picking up, eating, and sharing a meal with your friends or family members, we are looking at how we use technology and the layout of our restaurants to provide a better experience while solving labor issues,” says Matheson.

Some of these methods include testing robots, adding a valet pickup lane, testing table ordering, and improving the online ordering experience. Wings and Rings is also exploring how to increase profitability with alternative ingredients and new procedures while improving culture and benefits to help staff restaurants.

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Cecil N. Messick