The Food Service Industry & AIDA Model

Buyer Psychology & Behavior Series 

The foodservice and restaurant industries are a tale of smoke and mirrors when it comes to consumer psychology and the AIDA purchase model. 

The advertising stratagem used by the majority of restaurant chains; nationals, independents, and global corporations is not all that unique amongst one another. 

All of them employ a simple yet subtle concept of conveyed wants and needs. They compose consumer influence tactics at the most organic consumers level and easily converge on all four categories of the AIDA sales model in doing so. 

Awareness/Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action are all anchoring objectives in the foodservice and restaurant industries’ advertising schemes. 

Getting the consumer’s mindset from zero to a hundred in a metaphorical sales sense is not a simple science but rather a tedious process. 

Attention and Awareness 

The first trick we see being used by the food industry is a blend of discovery building through attention-grabbing. 

Restaurants and Fast Food corporations are savvy when it comes to engaging the consumer with a sort of creative disruption

This is typically done with sales tactics like “food-porn” style photoshoots, sex-sells style models, audio context, relevant and comical commercials with paid influencers and celebrities as well as local incentives and even familiar experiences. 

This stage of the purchase funnel is saturated through LIVE Television, the internet, and email, primarily through paid advertising or promotions. 

Typically, the businesses get us hooked on their brand, idea, product, and service so that we can then be funneled further into the context of real, tangible interest. 

Whether this is through augmented pictures, photoshoot tricks, or just high-caliber post-production, there are several camera tricks that can be employed to leave us wanting more.

Interest Through Promotion 

In a business where perception is reality, the con is made daily, that we need to hop on down the street to Dunkin’, try the new cheese-stuffed crust at Papa Johns, and get to Starbucks in time for Pumpkin Spice lattes. 

But is this urgency, all it’s really cracked up to be? When the consumer’s focus is of priority, the importance is to convey the features and proof of concept.

The sheer imagery and video behind the best food advertisements are strong enough alone to drive the hunger in all of us. 

As hunger is so low on the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, it is very easy to convey a sense of hunger and to pitch the idea of “food”. 

Thus, the food service and restaurant industries have an easier time getting you through this part of the funnel. 

Coupons, Promotions, Special Offers, and Bundles are great ways to drive a more contextual interest to a specific time, place, or unique product. 

The titans of industry in food service, restaurants, and retail understand that promotion is one of the most important Ps (Four Ps of Marketing) in the marketing book.  

Desire is Demand

Interests often become needed when smart brands surround their products and services with logical sensibility and emotional connectivity

Once a customer learns of the McDonalds promotion, understands the details of the offer, there is a desire to execute and approach the offer at its point of sale.  

This desire is often articulated by rich media, research into compelling brand narratives, and an establishment of strong values through prototyped brand experience or education

Happy Meal is much more than a combination of burger, fries, drink, and a toy from McDonald’s. It is the perceived brand experience that comes along with it.  

This exact experience has been passed on for a few decades of American culture now. Globally, children, in particular, have associated the Happy Meal and McDonald’s as an object of happiness and sympathy.

The Desire level of the AIDA Model is in full effect as the best advertisers in the industry understand that desire for a product (food in particular) will only resonate and elicit action with the right target audience. 

Product Proximity

The final stage of the funnel of the AIDA Model we see used in foodservice and restaurant industry advertisement is the approach. 

More importantly, the salesmen/businesses must provide product proximity. The best trick in the book is to use strong CTA (Call To Action) through digital channels driving promotions through local points of sale. 

In this case, restaurants, fast food chains, food corporations, and the like, do everything from the top of the funnel down to this point to pitch themselves, explain their competitive advantage and drive urgency to the customer. 

But what is all of this without proximity? Useless! That is why the best marketers and strongest brands utilize hyper-local and targeted specifications when designing their ad campaigns and creative. 

Thus, they can hope, that the consumer buys, purchases, and executes their order, because, they know that once they do, they’ll most likely be back. 


Whether through creative disruption and boastful imagery, timeliness and promotion, emotional sensibility, and product proximity, the best marketers in the foodservice and restaurant industries drive us to consume. 

The food service advertisement industry is a twenty-four-seven machine that continually drives every one of us to repeat offend. 

Just when we think we’ve figured out the promotions, the cravings that drive our purchases, and the systems in which they deploy the consumer reins, the technology scales and expectations evolve; along with it our shared consumer psychology.