This year, the most effective fast food marketing strategies have relied heavily on technology to meet customer demand. Consumers today expect greater transparency from restaurants. They want to know what they’re eating—and where it came from—and they often turn to the Internet for this information. They also want mobile ordering for convenience and app-based rewards programs that improve the customer experience and perception of your restaurant.
As we move into the second half of 2018, fast food companies that want to grow must go mobile. Mobile allows quick service restaurants (QSR) to create effective campaigns that reach diners whose decisions are often made on a whim. To earn that customer’s business, a QSR must either have an established relationship with them or the ability to reach them in that moment of decision.
Whether it’s an attempt to provide consumers the transparency they demand or to simplify the ordering process, the top fast-food marketing strategies for 2018 can also improve awareness of a restaurant and its offerings—and increase sales.
Leverage an Honest Image
Long beloved for its tasty, inexpensive food and convenience, the QSR industry has been faced with disruption of late. Lack of transparency over nutritional value has damaged the image of many a fast food restaurant. The rise of the Internet and an increasingly vocal pop culture further exposed failings within the industry and left consumers wary. Now, no longer focused just on what tastes best or what is most inexpensive, these customers also want:
- Clear labeling: Some consumers are perfectly willing to eat a 1,000-calorie cheeseburger—provided they know it’s a 1,000-calorie cheeseburger. In recent years, many restaurants have improved product labeling to include things like calories and saturated fat. To support the consumer’s desire to indulge while also staying informed, it’s critical that companies continue to strive for clear labeling.
- Responsible sourcing: Consumers have grown more concerned about where fast food restaurants source their meat and produce. They have voiced concerns about how livestock is treated and are demanding restaurants choose producers who farm ethically. Restaurants that listen to consumers and work with ethical producers will earn their customers’ goodwill.
- Child-friendly options: While adults have a choice of healthy or indulgent options, children have less say: They may beg for sugary treats, but they mostly eat what they’re given. Still, while their parents may be buying, one in three kids under age 19 eats at a QSR daily. Restaurants need to offer healthy options for kids, and fast food advertising could focus on this to improve the brand perception.
Fast food restaurants that build an honest, trustworthy reputation will be the ones that can get the diner’s attention as they’re making a QSR decision. Restaurants should make information about products, sourcing, and children’s food available either online or via a mobile marketing app.
Streamline the Fast Food Experience on Mobile
Consumers often dine at fast food restaurants out of a desire for convenience. The demand for convenience is even evidenced by the consumer’s reliance on their phones: Mobile ordering at restaurants grew by a stunning 50% in 2017.
Consumers cited four main reasons for using mobile ordering, including:
- Ability to view menus: Consumers want to be able to view the menu on their phone prior to arrival, rather than having to wait until they’re at the location.
- Ability to check specials: If a restaurant is rolling out a new product, offering a special, or having an event, consumers want to learn more about these via their phones in advance.
- Ease of payment: Consumers want to be able to use their smartphones as digital wallets. This allows them to pay for items either ahead of time or at the register—no cash or card required.
- Opportunity to earn rewards: Rewards-based loyalty programs, including both company-specific programs and third-party mobile apps like Shopkick, are in high demand as consumers often visit a location repeatedly and want to be rewarded for doing so.
The ability to order and pay online may be why mobile is so popular among fast-food consumers, but it also offers other enticing options. One in-demand feature restaurants should capitalize on is rewards, which can be provided to customers through mobile apps.
Add Third-Party Mobile Apps to Fast Food Marketing Strategies
The problem with a QSR using a proprietary rewards program and mobile app is that it places limitations on consumers—they can only be rewarded at that restaurant chain—and it inhibits new customer acquisition. Consumers who download a restaurant-specific mobile app are already familiar with, and loyal to, that QSR. A restaurant that hopes to reach a new audience must connect with consumers on a new platform.
Mobile shopping apps, which allow consumers to gain rewards at a variety of places, provide QSRs with a very broad and diverse audience. Shopkick, for example, has a highly engaged user base that can be leveraged when a QSR is trying to increase market share. Consumers know they can receive rewards points—knowns as kicks—for visiting participating locations or making certain purchases. This strategy drives traffic to a restaurant without the company having to use a discount or coupon program.
Mobile shopping apps, which allow consumers to gain rewards at a variety of places, provide QSRs with a very broad and diverse audience.
Shopping apps such as Shopkick also allow restaurants to connect with consumers who are on the move, including when they may be traveling near a QSR location. As fast food decisions are made impulsively, the ability to connect with traveling consumers is highly beneficial. Third-party mobile apps give you this ability, along with a way to communicate with new audiences via the shopping app’s platform.
Fast food marketing strategies in 2018 require that restaurants leverage honesty and create trust with the consumers. Mobile payments streamline the ordering process and also offer consumers additional tools, like the ability to browse menus, check specials, and earn rewards. And, third-party apps can help a QSR reach new audiences, even when the potential customer is on the move. Using these three fast food marketing strategies can improve brand awareness, make a QSR more memorable to consumers, and increase sales.
Shopkick helps our partners connect with on-the-move consumers through an innovative app. For more information, contact us.