It's not enough for a restaurant brand to have a convenient location, quick service, or a bargain meal anymore. In today's hyper-competitive and widely-varied quick-service restaurant market, convenience-seeking consumers are looking for the option that has 'the works'.
'The works' in this case can include a combination of drive-thru, pickup, delivery, online order, automated kiosks, and yes - retail. Brands like Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, and Panera all have a leg-up on the competition with their ability to cater to the changing demands of the consumer.
Starbucks was able to drive store sales through the roof with their introduction of a mobile payment system. By the end of 2017, 30% of U.S. transactions were paid through the app, with these users spending approximately 3x more than the average customer.
Auntie Anne's recently put out an extensive clothing line that includes shirts, bags, mugs, etc. Priced fairly reasonably, their products allow for loyal fans to showcase their loyalty while supporting Auntie Anne's charitable partner Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.
1. Focus on digital engagement
Starbucks invested in utilizing digital channels to learn more about the customer, allowing them the opportunity to collect data and get a better view of their target audience(s). Social media can be a huge help for engaging with your customers as you can crowdsource ideas, suggestions, and feedback.
Heinz Ketchup was able to do this as they wanted to get the go-ahead for their new 'Mayochup' product, which blends together mayonnaise and ketchup - a popular trend in the U.K. and the Gulf states. They simply took the decision to Twitter in a poll to see if U.S. customers really wanted to see this new product in stores. Image on the right
2. Create a system to foster loyalty
Get loyalty through systems like rewards systems, discount/free drink offers, free refills, upgrades, delivery perks, etc. Using rewards cards or mobile rewards app will have customers feel rewarded with benefits each time they make a purchase. Using apps that consumers use anyway, why not give them an opportunity to pay through that app as well?
3. Diversify your brand exposure
Auntie Anne's is iconic for their pretzels, so how can they expand their brand? Showcasing loyal customers' love for a brand for a charitable cause is an effective start. Customers can purchase t-shirts that display their pretzel-love, mugs with Auntie Anne's pretzels all over it, fanny packs that are given away on social media, and more.
Dunkin' Donuts did something similar with their recent partnership with a shoe brand to release their Saucony x Dunkin' Kinvara 9 sneakers, giving a literal implication to their iconic famous "America Runs on Dunkin'" slogan.
4. Make it easy to connect your consumers to your products
Being able to give your consumers what they want from your business in the most convenient way to them is something that successful brands should aim to do. This is where a lot of market research comes into great importance, as being able to listen and understand what your customers want is guaranteed to boost your brand.
Taco Bell recently made it a whole lot easier to connect their customers to their brand by releasing a line of chips and dip they can purchase at grocery and convenient stores. They are now able to give their fans a new way to access their brand, in this case at home.
5. Stay Relevant and Provide Value
There's competition in every industry - keep a close eye on them to know the current trends in your industry. If your communications and/or marketing strategy isn't relevant to your target audience, then your message has no value and won't be heard.
Customer loyalty in invaluable, generating a plan to incentivize loyal customers in some way would be extremely beneficial for long-run success. Complimentary shopping, additional giveaways with specific purchases - anything that can add value to their patronage.
Being able to show your appreciation for your customers' involvement with your brand is always something that should be tended to of course. However, being innovative with your brand accessibility is a skill that successful brands should absolutely realize and invest in.