Burger concept Fat Hippo is planning to open six sites within the year, including one in London’s Soho and another in Edinburgh by the summer.

The Northeast-based chain currently has an estate of 17 across the country and made its London debut in Shoreditch in October 2022. Its offer comprises indulgent burgers as well as vegan, halal, and gluten-free options, along with a kids menu and meal deals.

Speaking at the Generation Next event on 1 March, organised by MCA and sister title BigHospitality, head of marketing Nick Fountain spoke about Fat Hippo’s expansion plans and enhancing the customer journey through targeted communication.

“With record sales, we have the reassurance we’re targeting people correctly and giving them reason to come back,” he said. “The momentum is there.

“We also look at each individual location and its opportunities, as marketing allows us to speak to our audience on a more granular level.”

Speaking to MCA in October, MD Michael Phillips said the brand is looking to expand at the rate of up to six sites per year, with a focus on vibrant city centres and maintaining a competitive price point while offering a premium product.

Fountain similarly discussed the importance of accessibility and reaching the target demographic – 24-45 year olds – across touchpoints.

“We rely heavily on user-generated content, but it’s about keeping control of the brand through the journey of the customer…our marketing is focused on where we think the impact will be.”

While dwell time averages one hour, the brand looks to maintain a quality experience in-store but also use a collective data reach approach. It looks to the social media content customers access while in-store, such as Instagram stories, and also rising platforms like TikTok.

Influencer marketing is key but followers have to be relevant in terms of Fat Hippo’s target audience, according to Fountain. The brand has 7-8 social media campaigns usually running at the same time, featuring menu specials, suppliers, and other content. Campaigns have also helped recruit staff.

“However disruptive a campaign may be, it has to resonate with the people you’re targeting.”