QSR Brands Make the Leap to Mobile



Quick-service is getting even quicker — and more convenient. Major brands in the fast food segment, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s, are flirting with the idea of mobile payments. In fact, going even further, Burger King and Wendy’s both claim to be ready to rollout the feature, and will do so throughout the year, while McDonald’s is still testing the addition in smaller markets.

Customer behavior habits beg for convenience, which has made mobile technology so appealing for restaurateurs to adopt — especially in the fast food sector. But how far are brands willing to go?  Read More

Posted on April 23, 2014 and filed under Mobile.

Social Media Is Bringing Back Chain Restaurant Menu Items From the Dead

Changing the world, a few hundred calories at a time!

The Olive Garden | Photo Credit: Facebook.com

The Olive Garden | Photo Credit: Facebook.com

Olive Garden customers have spoken, and the struggling casual dining chain, understandably concerned about losing some of its most loyal patrons, has listened. A few weeks ago, Olive Garden revamped its menu and eliminated a few items, including the braised beef and tortelloni. The cruel move was just too much for fans of the dish to stomach, so customers took to social media and complained directly to Olive Garden’s guest relations department to demand the item’s return to the menu. Read More

Posted on April 18, 2014 and filed under The Chipotle Effect.

How to Win More Customers with Gamification

Photo Credit: Pizzamarketplace.com 

Photo Credit: Pizzamarketplace.com 

By Imran Sayeed, CTO, NTT DATA, and Pernian Faheem, Retail Lead for the Social Mobile Gamification practice, NTT DATA

Customers don't have time to wait in line nowadays, and restaurant owners can solve that problem by incorporating social media and mobile technology to offer a seamless way to order and pay. While these solutions are readily available, another technology is also available to help operators gain traction amongst customers: Gamification.

Gamification is certainly not a new phenomenon; however it is a solution that can solve everyday hassles and tremendously help the hospitality industry. Read More

Posted on April 16, 2014 and filed under The Chipotle Effect.

How Starbucks, Target Are Getting Millennial Mom Marketing Right

Photo Credit: MobileMarketer.com

Photo Credit: MobileMarketer.com

Millennial moms are a lucrative demographic for mobile marketers, but brands need to shift from pushing aggressive coupons and offers to using more content-heavy strategies to win over this group.

Although millennial moms lend themselves well to mobile with time-sensitive and exclusive content, the demographic also presents a number of unique challenges. There is also a growing shift from marketers targeting millennial moms to leverage CRM and data in hopes of tracking a consumer through the entire lifestyle instead of using mobile for one-off promotions.

“Knowing that mobile solutions can help moms with their life and sanity, marketers needs to identify what moms want and need, create an experience that solves for these wants and needs,” said Molly Garris, digital strategy director at Leo Burnett/Arc Worldwide, Chicago. “Only then will they be able to offer something useful.” Read More

Posted on April 10, 2014 and filed under Millennial Marketing.

Restaurants That Offer Nutrition Facts and Healthful Foods More Popular

According to researchers at Penn State and the University of Tennessee, customers are more likely to frequent restaurants that provide both healthful foods and nutrition information.

"The Affordable Care Act has mandated that chain restaurants -- those with more than 20 restaurants -- provide nutrition information to customers," said David Cranage, associate professor of hospitality management. "Many restaurants had been fighting this legislation because they thought they would lose customers if the customers knew how unhealthy their food was. In this study, we found that customers perceive restaurants to be socially responsible when they are provided with nutrition facts and healthful options and, therefore, are more likely to patronize those restaurants."

To conduct their study, the researchers presented participants with various scenarios, including the presence or absence of nutrition information and the presence or absence of healthful foods. Read More

Posted on April 8, 2014 and filed under Restaurant News.

Taco Bell’s Breakfast Of Champions: 5 Questions With The Brand’s Director Of Digital Marketing

Taco Bell’s recent breakfast menu campaign caught our attention last week when the brand’s “Ronald McDonald” television ads prompted a Tweet from its biggest competitor.

Photo Credit: Taco Bell | Facebook

Photo Credit: Taco Bell | Facebook

Not only did Taco Bell’s TV spots make waves, but a Reddit AMA hosted by Taco Bell president Brian Niccol announcing the new breakfast menu generated over 8,000 comments in less than 24 hours.

The driving force behind Taco Bell’s digital marketing success is Tressie Lieberman, the brand’s director of digital marketing and platforms.

“With Breakfast, we wanted to create a campaign that turns heads and takes people off their boring breakfast routines,” said Lieberman, “With any social campaign at Taco Bell, we want to do it in a way that fits our brand voice, and engages our fans and friends.” Read More

Posted on April 4, 2014 and filed under Restaurant Marketing.

When Marketing to Millennials, “Useful is the new cool”

Photo Credit: MillennialMarketing.com

Photo Credit: MillennialMarketing.com

This post is written by Jeff Fromm and original appeared on MillennialMarketing.com


A key finding of our first Millennial study was the mantra, “Useful is the new cool.” In our follow up study, “Millennials as New Parents: The Rise of a New American Pragmatism,” this mantra still applies, but with Millennial parents there’s a new tune. Now, it’s “useful is the new essential.” Considering that Millennials make-up 21 percent of Consumer Discretionary Purchasing Power in the US, companies should quickly take note.

In order to stay ahead of the competition, brands must embrace technology in a way that provides a useful interaction with their product and/or service. We know that Millennials are 2.5 times more likely to embrace new digital, social and mobile channels than their predecessors and that they possess the desire to have technology integrated into their customer experience. For these reasons, it is not enough for a brand to just use technology. A brand must innovate in ways that make their customer’s experience seamless while incorporating technology. Read More

Today's Most Important Question: What Do Millennials Eat and Drink?

HBO GIRLS | Photo Credit: Bon Appetite

HBO GIRLS Photo Credit: Bon Appetite

You may not lie awake at night and wonder, “What do millennials enjoy eating and drinking these days? What sorts of qualities drive their decisions in food consumption and beverage choices?” But that is only because there are so many informative studies and articles telling us exactly what millennials enjoy eating and drinking. And thank goodness, because this is a matter of the utmost importance. If you were born between 1980 and the early 2000s, or know someone who was, listen up: These are things that matter.

Without this dispatch from Shanken News Daily, for instance, how would we know that millennials prefer to drink alcohol with such “aesthetic principles” as “good staging and beauty”? Bacardi rum and Dewar’s Scotch are cited as examples that hit the mark. Read More

Posted on March 27, 2014 and filed under Millennial Marketing.

Restaurants Turn to Technology to Simplify Staff Scheduling

In many ways, the Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Ellary’s Greens in New York City, couldn’t be more different.

One of 110 stores located in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, or Ohio, Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries prepares Southern comfort food, in a family-friendly atmosphere. Bret Rhye and his father are area developers for the Hwy 55 franchise, owning and operating the Charlotte restaurant and franchising an additional 12 in North Carolina.

Ellary’s Greens, an independent in New York’s Greenwich Village, is just coming up on its one-year anniversary. The cozy spot is known for its healthy gourmet fare, centered on natural and organic ingredients. Read More

Posted on March 25, 2014 and filed under The Chipotle Effect.

Burger King App to Allow Customers to Buy Whoppers with Smartphones

Photo Credit: Detroit News

Photo Credit: Detroit News

Burger King Worldwide Inc., the second-biggest U.S. burger chain, is introducing an application that will allow customers to pay for Whoppers with their smartphones as it races rivals to woo younger diners.

The program will be introduced next month and should be in all of Burger King’s more than 7,000 U.S. stores in “a few months,” Bryson Thornton, a spokesman for the company, said in an emailed statement. The option to order food and drinks ahead of time for later in-store pickup may be added, he said.

Fast-food chains including McDonald’s Corp. and Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. are competing to quickly introduce the best loyalty programs and smartphone apps to try to attract millennials and teens. McDonald’s last year said it was testing coupon and mobile-payment apps at some of its U.S. locations. Dunkin’ Donuts rolled out a rewards programs to all of its domestic shops in January. Read More

Posted on March 20, 2014 and filed under The Chipotle Effect.

Fast Casual Nation: Bruxie Waffles Wrap Up Fast Casual [VIDEO]

Welcome to another episode of Fast Casual Nation, brought to you by the Foodable WebTV Network. In this episode Paul and the crew head to southern California to visit Bruxie, a chef-driven fast casual centered around a very unique menu item: the waffle. Headed by Chef Dean Simon, Bruxie was inspired by his travels to Belgium where, as you can imagine, waffles are a big thing. Fast Casual Nation is always about looking for those hidden gems with unique concepts and menus that are changing the way America eats and Bruxie is a perfect example. We guarantee you'll never look at waffles the same again! 

Posted on March 18, 2014 .

What Shake Shack Knows About Growth that McDonald’s Has Forgotten

Photo Credit: Harvard Business Review 

Photo Credit: Harvard Business Review 

The idea that organizational growth comes from doing a few things well is popular and proven.  But debate remains on how to direct your firm’s focus as you grow.

There are many options.  With a technology focus, you might manage to launch a successful breakthrough, but your success will be short-lived because sustaining a technological advantage today is so difficult.  A sales focus fails to deliver a profitable market leadership position because it favors short-term revenue growth and customer acquisition over sustainable margins and customer loyalty.  Companies have been right to give more attention to customers in recent years, but when understanding customers, developing value propositions, and applying brand values are considered responsibilities only of the marketers in your organization, your company lacks the alignment and integration needed to produce a complete and coordinated superior customer experience. Read More

Posted on March 13, 2014 and filed under The Chipotle Effect.

Millennial Foodies Inspire Innovative Culinary Trends

Photo Credit: MillennialMarketing.com

Photo Credit: MillennialMarketing.com

If there’s one thing Millennials like to consider themselves, it’s the “foodie” generation. In fact, their appetites are changing the entire culinary landscape. They’re driving the evolvement of restaurants, demanding customized menu items, and craving unique foods and flavors. Additionally, food has become way more than just satisfying appetites; it has become a social necessity.

Unlike previous generations, Millennials now have the capability to use food as a method of personal storytelling and self-expression. A range of social media platforms allow them to instantly snap pictures of their savory plates, follow their favorite food blogs, and check in at the trendiest, new restaurant. No wonder 50 percent of Millennials now refer to themselves as foodies. Read More

Beers & Bratwurst at Downtown L.A.'s Wurstküche [VIDEO]

In this episode of Fast Casual Nation, brought to you by the Foodable WebTV Network, we head to downtown L.A.'s Wurstküche for a little beer and bratwurst - ok a lot of beer, bratwurst, and gourmet sausage, as well. Literally meaning "sausage kitchen," Wurstküche is the place to go for unique links (like Duck & Bacon sausage) and good German beer. Pull up a seat and relax a while as host Paul Barron sits down with owner Tyler Wilson to learn a bit more about this unique fast casual concept. 

Posted on March 6, 2014 and filed under Fast Casual Nation.

Pizza Hut Takes it Up a Notch, Tests Interactive Tables

Photo Credit: Facebook.com 

Photo Credit: Facebook.com 

Restaurant chains across the industry are looking to leverage improvements in tablet technology to order and pay at the table, but Pizza Hut is testing a new innovation that would let guests order and pay using the table itself.

The Plano, Texas-based chain of more than 6,200 locations in the United States announced Monday via a YouTube video the development of an interactive table that functions essentially as a giant tablet app. Customers could use the app to choose the size of their pizzas with the same pinch-and-spread motions they might use on a smartphone or pick their toppings by swiping through an interactive menu.

Spokesmen for the brand said the unveiling of what they call the “concept car of pizza ordering” was timed to pre-empt the start of South by Southwest Interactive, a digital-commerce conference that begins on March 7, in Austin, Texas. Read More

Posted on March 4, 2014 and filed under The Chipotle Effect.

How Tablets are Affecting the Consumer Dining Experience

In this episode of Turn & Burn, brought to you by the Foodable WebTV Network, we’re talking restaurant technology. John Regal, CMO at Ziosk, joins us on the show to discuss how tablets are becoming integrated into the consumer dining experience – from entertaining or informing to actually ordering. Watch the full episode as we determine how tablets in restaurants are changing our approach to dining and what we can expect in the future: Will tablets replace servers? What are the adoption rates for casual dining? What are the benefits of a tablet for the guest, and how might tablets in restaurants improve over time as technology continues to shift forward? Watch the full episode to find out this and more.

Posted on February 27, 2014 and filed under Turn & Burn.

Analyst Predicts Rise of Guest-facing Restaurant Tech


The growing pressure of labor inflation is driving the restaurant industry to embrace new guest-facing technologies — and rapid consumer acceptance is further spurring that move, said one Wall Street analyst in a report Thursday.

In a note to investors about rising labor costs, Christopher O’Cull, senior analyst with KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., said rising minimum wage rates and increasing health care costs are causing restaurant operators to change a fundamental aspect of the consumer experience: service.

Chain restaurants have attempted to combat inflation with productivity improvements, such as better demand forecasting to optimize labor scheduling and new back-of-the-house technologies, O’Cull wrote. Read More

Posted on February 25, 2014 and filed under Restaurant Trends.

Mobile Payments: Transforming the Restaurant Experience

Photo Credit: Foodable WebTV Network

Photo Credit: Foodable WebTV Network

All aspects of our lives—both business and pleasure—are being transformed as technology evolves. Consumer-facing technology in restaurants, however, is only now getting high visibility. New ordering and payment systems popping up are changing consumers’ familiar experiences of ordering and paying for a meal. We asked consumers about one of the new technologies beginning to make inroads in chain restaurants: mobile-phone payment.

Placing food orders by mobile phone has become routine for many consumers, but paying the bill on a mobile device is still a novelty. Just over one out of 10 consumers reports having paid for a restaurant meal by smartphone. Read More

Posted on February 20, 2014 and filed under Technology.

Fast Casual Nation: Pitfire Pizza – Artisan Pizza Heats Up Local Markets [VIDEO]

In this episode of Fast Casual Nation, brought to you by the Foodable WebTV Network, we visit fast casual Pitfire Pizza in L.A. Owner & Founder Paul Hibler tells us how the concept came to be and what Pitfire is doing to inject the local market into each of its seven locations. Watch the full episode as we chow down at this modern-day artisan pizza parlor, and explore – from its ingredients to its unexpected menu offerings – what truly makes Pitfire a standout.

Brands Find Success in Offshoot Vending Machines

Photo Credit: tastetheburrito.com 

Photo Credit: tastetheburrito.com 

Long dominated by the likes of Twinkies and soda, the vending world is now counting quick-serve specialties among its selections. Consumers craving a fix from some of their favorite brands are no longer restricted by regular hours of operation, and operators can boost sales with a small initial investment and low operating costs.

“It’s becoming more and more prevalent,” says Steven Brush, cofounder of the consulting service iBrandEz, which specializes in nontraditional franchising. “Customer occasion marketing basically means where-I-want-it, when-I-want-it types of foods.”

One company to take note of this trend early on was California-based chain Sprinkles Cupcakes, which opened its first Cupcake ATM concept in 2010. Read More

Posted on February 18, 2014 and filed under The Chipotle Effect.