The National Restaurant Association and LivingSocial today announced a new partnership through which both organizations will work to educate and inform restaurant operators on all available marketing channels to build restaurant brand awareness and increase sales. The partnership’s focus will be on a major research project to study restaurant marketing efforts and consumer attitudes. 

“We’re excited to be working with LivingSocial to better understand how restaurant operators can market themselves locally and nationwide,” says James Balda, chief marketing and communications officer of the National Restaurant Association. “Restaurant industry sales are expected to reach $632 billion in 2012, underscoring the industry's importance as a driver of national economic recovery and solid employment growth. To continue to grow sales and create jobs, restaurant operators must closely follow consumer trends and leverage that knowledge to meet guest expectations.” 

As part of the research effort, LivingSocial has provided an unrestricted grant for the National Restaurant Association to conduct a study examining the effectiveness of a wide array of marketing channels for the restaurant industry. Insights gained from the survey will be used to create resources National Restaurant Association members can leverage when selecting the best marketing approach to help strengthen their business. 

“Restaurants make up a large portion of LivingSocial’s merchant base and our mission is to help them attract and retain valuable new customers,” says Mandy Cole, senior vice president of sales at LivingSocial. “We couldn’t be happier to work with the National Restaurant Association, and we look forward to applying the information shared through this relationship to better serve our merchants.” 

The restaurant and foodservice industry not only feeds Americans, but the nation’s economy. It is the nation’s second largest private sector employer, providing jobs to more than 12.9 million people in 970,000 locations across the U.S. However, despite positive signs of economic recovery, restaurateurs still cite “building and maintaining sales volume” as one of their top challenges this year, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast. 

Results of the joint research on restaurant marketing will be released at the 2012 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago, May 5-8.