The modern day quick-service restaurant (QSR) landscape has been shifting for some time. An entire industry built on standardization and hyper efficiency is now being expected to address the changing consumer who is demanding a wider variety of offerings tailored to their unique preferences. Customer expectations for convenience and service are being redefined in this new era of hypersensitivity towards time efficacy and connected experiences. Furthermore, the evolving competitive ecosystem surrounding the QSR landscape is also presenting challenges that cannot be ignored – the grocerant, the expanding c-store and gas bar offerings, and the plethora of food ordering and food delivery services – to name a few. In fact, many are further along in meeting the needs of this new generation of QSR consumer, but getting down to the restaurant itself, paying greater attention to managing the customer experience has never been more important.
Although price will always play a big part, our on-going work with McDonald’s Canada has affirmed that there are 2 key touchpoints in the restaurant that need to be approached strategically to extract the value they have on delivering the right experience that yields greater share of the QSR usage occasion.
Primarily, it’s important to understand the psychology of shoppers and how they make their purchasing decisions. Menu boards – the biggest real estate touch point for QSR – are where purchase decisions are made and are pivotal in influencing customer choices. Menu board effectiveness is optimized when you understand the psychology behind how the customer tracks through different offers on the board. Understanding these innate and deliberate moves helps you understand where and how best to present this content.
In addition to the menu board, more thought needs to go into the development and marketing of product-based promotions. In the QSR world, historically the focus has been on the discounting and bundling of existing products in the portfolio. Developing programs against a well-planned marketing calendar of promotions, events and special limited-time offers ensures these become strategy-led initiatives that are developed with the target customers’ preferences in mind. Some examples of our work are the recent Great Canadian Taste Adventure and World Taste Tours initiatives we worked on with McDonald’s Canada which included rotations of weekly features from different regions of Canada and the World. These were designed to engage, inspire, convert and build repeat visits.
More than ever customer-centricity has become the new frontier in an industry that has historically been focused on maximizing operational efficiency through product and process standardization. The convenience of the QSR offering can no longer be measured merely in terms of speed and value. Experience, personalization and customer engagement are now factoring more heavily into the customer’s value equation.