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Quick Service Restaurants & Mobile: Making Fast Food Faster

Morris Director, Insights
August 1, 2012

Grabbing a quick bite to eat?  What happens when a fast food restaurant throws mobile into the mix? Also known as quick service restaurants (QSRs), fast food restaurants like Subway, McDonald’s and Taco Bell allow consumers to order, pay for and receive their food within 15 minutes of walking into the location. At over $170B in 2012 projected revenue, QSRs entering the mobile age are quickly evolving their services, such as ordering and payment, to improve speed and efficiency as well as capitalize on the new age of mobile wallets. With 35.2% of restaurants who offer mobile apps also offering order placement capabilities and 42% of consumers visiting a QSR once a month according to the National Restaurant Association, how can these restaurants take full advantage of the mobile conversation?



Among the many challenges facing QSRs, two significant barriers prevent these restaurants from targeting their consumers and making the cash register ring:


Mobile Payment: The current hardware infrastructure is not yet in place—QSR locations need to set up the necessary mobile point of sale (POS) systems to accept payments and device manufacturers need to be equipped with the necessary payment technologies compatible with these systems. Consumers must also feel comfortable using mobile payment systems to pay for their food orders. Despite these challenges, that doesn’t stop Starbucks from processing $42 million in mobile payments through its mobile application.  Pilots are also underway for some top 5 QSRs with Burger King recently announcing a pilot for mobile payments via its BK® Mobile Crown Card and McDonalds testing mobile CRM at over 500 locations following a successful trial in Northern California.


Mobile + Social + Consumer Psyche: Increasingly, mobile programs are closely aligned with social networking, often targeting consumers with rewards who proudly display their loyalty by “checking-in” or sharing their selection of a QSR for a quick bite with their friends & family. Brands may be concerned about consumers’ trepidation in sharing their QSR choice with their social network due to the perception of nutritional health risks. To ease this concern,  brands should seek to embrace consumers by utilizing mobile to provide nutritional information and interactive experiences that illustrate food quality as Wendy’s did by placing QR codes on food packaging that led consumers to their YouTube channel.


Many QSRs are still unsure when it comes to mobilizing their services—but some early movers have already proven that embracing mobile can lead to huge opportunities to increase sales, efficiency and consumer engagement. Want to know more about how advertisers are resolving these challenges? I had the privilege of moderating a panel at Mobile Media Summit 2012 held in Chicago earlier this month, on How Quick Service Restaurants Are Cashing In On The Mobile Revolution. It was a great panel, where we heard leading advertisers like OMD, Akoo and McCann discuss using mobile to help quick service restaurants target their customers. For more insight into how these advertisers overcame challenges, feel free to ping me @MorrisMartin.


Want to keep up with QSRs and the restaurant industry? Follow up to the minute restaurant news @NRNonline.


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