5 Creative Restaurant Marketing Ideas for Cinco de Mayo

By: Melissa Canellis


Cinco de Mayo, the celebration of the Mexican army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla, is fast approaching. This holiday presents an opportunity for restaurants in the United States to engage their customers, attract new guests and increase revenue by creating memorable offers and enhanced dining experiences. Although Cinco de Mayo may not be Mexico’s most significant holiday (that honor goes to their Independence Day on September 16th), it’s an occasion to celebrate Mexican cuisine and culture. With festive promotions all around, vibrant displays, and enticing menu offerings, this is the time to think sales-wise about the best tactics for your brand to get the most out of Cinco de Mayo on May 5, 2024, and turn it into a happy one. 

Exploring 5 Current Restaurant and Mexican Food Trends

Before we jump into Cinco de Mayo restaurant marketing ideas, let’s look at some current trends and data points to help you strategize your loyalty efforts:  

Recent data shows that Mexican restaurant operators who have prioritized innovation and incorporated new technologies have reported a 15% increase in customer engagement. This highlights the importance of innovating the guest experience through an AI-powered loyalty and engagement platform. 

In a survey of guests who frequently dine out, 60% of respondents said they are likely to decide which restaurant to visit by the offers or promotions received from the brand. Loyalty programs and social media have also become a powerful tool for creating and promoting these offers, with most major Mexican brands leveraging tools and channel. 

More people are turning towards brunch as their preferred way to dine out. In fact, three-quarters of millennials (76%) buy breakfast food or drinks at a restaurant or other foodservice location once a week or more, and 63% (compared to just 46% of the overall population) say ethnic breakfast dishes are appealing. 

Additionally, 66% of consumers now report that location is a primary factor in determining their dining choice. Offering and promoting online ordering, pickup, delivery, and drive-thru options can significantly help enhance your brand’s visibility.  

Also interesting to note, 72% of Gen Z and millennials eat 2-3 burritos weekly, indicating a shifting demographic landscape and the opportunity to capitalize on the preferences of younger generations. 

Cultural experiences have an impact on customer satisfaction and can help brands reach new market segments. Here’s a set of 5 key components to create universal appeal for your Cinco de Mayo promotion: 

  • Authenticity: Showcase your store’s knowledge of Mexican culture and history to demonstrate your commitment to providing an authentic shopping experience. 
  • Relevance: Highlight the connection between your restaurant and Cinco de Mayo. Emphasize the holiday’s significance to enhance the celebration. 
  • Creativity: Give your audience offers and experiences they can’t say no to while keeping in mind the consumer trends for 2024 that will help you stand out from the competition. 
  • Simplicity: Make sure the marketing messages you’re working on are clear and easy to understand. Don’t confuse customers with complex deals or jargon. 
  • Timing: Plan and execute your strategy well in advance of the Cinco de Mayo holiday to maximize awareness and anticipation. Last-minute actions don’t work so well. Early planning leads to better execution and greater effectiveness of a marketing campaign. Taco Bell is a great example of this, usually launching their Cinco de Mayo campaign early.  

5 Innovative Marketing Strategies for Cinco de Mayo Celebrations

To make your Cinco de Mayo celebrations a success, it’s important to think outside the box and come up with innovative marketing strategies. Here are five ideas to get you started: 

  1. Create Themed Menus and Drinks

Cinco de Mayo restaurant planning starts with food and beverages. Highlight local, organic, and nutritional options to cater to evolving consumer preferences and clearly describe any new menu items. Here are few more ideas:  

  • Create a special menu for Cinco de Mayo to attract new customers looking for unique and festive dining options. 
  • One way to make your menu stands out on Cinco de Mayo is by incorporating a “swicy” flavor profile for a Mexican-inspired LTO that you share on social, especially TikTok. 
  • No Cinco de Mayo celebration is complete without a signature cocktail, which can be served during the popular brunch daypart. 
  1. Launch a Themed Loyalty Program for the Week

One way to encourage repeat business and reward your loyal customers is by launching a themed loyalty program for the week leading up to Cinco de Mayo. Here are some key tactics to make your loyalty program stand out: 

  • Offer Cinco de Mayo LTOs or promotions for loyalty program members. 
  • Provide exclusive access to Cinco de Mayo member challenges in your rewards app. 
  • Give loyal customers the opportunity to earn bonus points or rewards for dining in or ordering from your restaurant during the Cinco de Mayo celebrations. 
  • Create a festive atmosphere in your restaurant with themed decorations and music to enhance the overall dining experience. 

By launching a themed loyalty program, you can not only increase customer retention but also attract new customers who are looking for a unique dining experience during Cinco de Mayo. 

  1. Host a Virtual Cinco de Mayo Cooking Class

With the popularity of virtual events on the rise, hosting a virtual Cinco de Mayo cooking class can be a fun and interactive way to engage with your audience. Here’s how you can make it a success: 

  • Announce the virtual cooking class to loyalty members through push/email/app messaging and include it on your social channels.  
  • Choose a popular Mexican dish and provide participants with a list of ingredients they will need to prepare it at home. 
  • Hire a professional chef or choose a culinary expert from your team to lead the virtual cooking class and provide step-by-step instructions. 
  • Encourage participants to share their cooking creations on social media and tag your restaurant for a chance to win a prize. 
  • Offer a special discount or promotion on Cinco de Mayo online orders to participants of the virtual cooking class. 

By hosting a virtual Cinco de Mayo cooking class, you can create an emotional connection with your restaurant customers in a new way through an experiential offering. 

  1. Create a Cinco de Mayo Photo Contest on Social Media

Social media contests are a great way to engage with your followers and increase brand awareness. Here’s how you can create a Cinco de Mayo photo contest on social media: 

  • Notify loyalty members about the photo contest via push/email/app messages and encourage your followers to share their best Cinco de Mayo-themed photos, whether it’s a festive outfit, a homemade Mexican dish, or a colorful decoration. 
  • Create a unique hashtag for the contest and ask participants to include it in their captions or comments. 
  • Run a campaign to offer a prize, such as a gift card or Cinco de Mayo-themed merchandise, to the winner of the contest. 
  • Share the entries on your social media platforms to showcase the creativity of your followers and encourage more engagement. 

A Cinco de Mayo photo contest can help you build a community of engaged followers, increase your brand visibility, and generate excitement for your restaurant. 

  1. Implement a Cinco de Mayo Quiz for Rewards in Your App

Utilize your restaurant’s rewards mobile app to implement a Cinco de Mayo quiz as a fun and interactive way to engage with your customers. Here’s how you can do it: 

Question  Correct Answer  Reward 
What year did the Battle of Puebla take place?  1862  Free appetizer 
Name a traditional Mexican dish.  Tacos  10% off next order 
What is the main ingredient in a margarita?  Tequila  Two-for-one margaritas 

By implementing a Cinco de Mayo quiz in your app, you can encourage customer interaction, educate them about Mexican culture, and reward their participation. The Punchh Platform makes this happen with redeemables, so brands can gift the prize to each winner in the app. 

As food holidays become further ingrained in our culture, restaurants of all sizes and cuisines are getting in on the action by engaging with their guests through unique offers and clever campaigns, and Cinco de Mayo is no exception. Punchh is the loyalty and offers platform of choice for over 20 brands that serve Mexican cuisine. Each year, they go all-out on Cinco de Mayo to surprise and delight their loyalty guests and acquire new customers through special promotions and marketing campaigns. 

Last year, our customers used the Punchh platform to reach millions of guests with unique Cinco de Mayo campaigns via email, push notifications, and SMS. Here’s a look at the numbers. 

In conclusion, Cinco de Mayo presents a fantastic opportunity for restaurants to engage their community through innovative marketing strategies. From themed loyalty programs and virtual cooking classes to social media contests and interactive quizzes, leveraging technology and creative menu ideas can spice up the celebrations. By preparing early, promoting responsibly, and measuring campaign success, restaurants can make the most of this festive occasion and drive engagement with customers. Let’s make this Cinco de Mayo a memorable and successful celebration for all! 

Ready to learn more about AI-powered Punchh Loyalty and Engagement Platform? Request a personalized demo for your brand. 

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