Good food or quick delivery is no longer sufficient for QSRs to survive in today’s highly competitive environment. Building customer loyalty and generating brand engagement by creating positive customer experience is now a requirement, not a luxury. Here’s why.Beyond taste buds: changing consumer behaviours
The world of fast food was rocked this October, when a report from the Wall Street Journal revealed that only one in five millennials has ever eaten a Big Mac. This news should make both established and emerging QSRs tremble in their boots. Their most loyal consumers—the ones which evidence suggests comprise the bulk of all corporate revenue— are abandoning ship. What are the reasons for that, and how can the industry stem the tide?
When it comes to fast casual and quick service restaurants, the number of choices has never been greater. When choosing a place to eat, picky consumers now take into account factors as diverse as corporate social responsibility, locally sourced ingredients, overall in-store experience, healthy items and special diets. Good food and quick service alone are no longer enough to make the cut.
According to no less a source than Gartner, “customer experience is the last source of sustainable differentiation.” In other words, the food you serve people matters less than the way you serve them. Of course, the QSR industry no stranger to this idea, but in an age where many customer loyalty strategies have already been tried, food vendors should think differently in order to win big.
It costs 500% more to attract new consumers than it does to keep the ones who are already engaged with your brand. At the same time, repeat customers spend 67% more. There is no wonder that restaurants strive to create long-term relationships with consumers by building sophisticated loyalty programs.
Loyalty programs have gone a long way since the invention of the punch card (“visit eight times and your ninth meal is free!”), but they still have the same basic problems. Consumers end up loyal to the program, not the restaurant. A recent study shows that while over 80 percent of consumers in a loyalty program participate because of the value of the reward, only 16 percent end up becoming loyal to the brand itself. Clearly, a new approach is needed.
The importance of positive emotions for customer loyalty cannot be underestimated. The Bond Brand Loyalty report 2016 discloses the extent to which participants deem the experience in and of itself, enjoyable is one of the key drivers of customer loyalty.
If consumers associate positive experiences with waiting in line, does it really matter how long they have to wait? If you engage consumers on-location through their mobile devices, while they wait to be served, the length of their perceived wait time suddenly becomes much shorter. With gamified experiences you not only reduce perceived wait times, but make consumers enjoy the time spent in your restaurant.
Encouraging consumers to play a game that involves your brand helps them associate the brand with fun and positive experiences. These games can also integrate with a rewards program—allowing consumers to earn rewards while they wait, instead of just when they purchase food. This strategy will create more loyalty than simple transaction-based rewards.
Gamified experiences are going to be one of the most positive ways for QSRs to differentiate themselves as the industry continues to diversify. QSRs will be able to build customer loyalty quickly, without the expense of a fresh food pipeline, or the quality concerns of a short wait time. For more information on how gamification is shaking up the QSR industry, click here to sign up to SCREEMO blog