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6 Consumer Trends Every QSR Should Watch Out For

The restaurant landscape is in constant flux, as consumer preferences and market trends shift. To remain competitive and resilient, Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) must keep pace with the most important factors driving change in their industry.

Marigold's 2023 Consumer Trends Index provides valuable insights into the factors shaping customer behaviour and purchase patterns, enabling QSRs to make informed decisions and strategise effectively. Through an extensive survey of over 6,000 people worldwide, Marigold collected essential information, delving into what customers value and deem acceptable or irrelevant when engaging with their favourite brands.

Interestingly, the restaurant industry is exceptionally well-positioned to weather economic turbulence, such as a recession when compared to other sectors. This resilience can be attributed to the myriad opportunities for creating emotional connections with consumers that are inherent in the world of dining. Harnessing the power of these connections, combined with a comprehensive understanding of the latest consumer trends, can help QSRs not only survive but thrive in this dynamic environment.

So, let's embark on a journey to explore the top six Consumer Trends that QSRs must look out for, and discover how these insights can be leveraged to delight customers and foster lasting success.

1. Embracing the Growing Impact of Email and Mobile Connectivity

In the ever-changing digital landscape, email continues to be a prominent and powerful tool for driving sales and engaging consumers. Over half of the respondents, 52% to be precise, made a purchase as a direct result of an email they received within the last 12 months. This is a 4% increase from 2022.

The data demonstrates that email is 108% more effective than SMS marketing or banner ads in driving online sales, and 13% more effective than social media campaigns.

To capitalise on this trend, QSRs must bolster their email strategies in 2023. Instead of focusing solely on traditional marketing and advertising, restaurants can more effectively reach consumers through their mobile phones. With the right technology, emails can be personalised, resulting in a high-value, low-cost marketing channel that complements a robust omnichannel sales approach.

2. Building Brand Loyalty through Thoughtful Customer Engagement

The importance of brand loyalty is paramount for QSRs that aim to retain customers and boost revenue. In 2023, 46% of diners mentioned that they are more likely to rely on loyalty program benefits, as witnessed by the success of Starbucks' Rewards program, which contributed to a 52% increase in the company's US revenue.

Establishing a value exchange with customers is a powerful way to foster brand loyalty. Marigold's 2023 Consumer Trends Index revealed that an overwhelming 93% of customers are willing to share their personal information in return for discounts. This exchange serves as a strong incentive to participate in loyalty programs and engage further with the brand. The key attractions that capture consumers' attention are:

  • 91% desire loyalty rewards, emphasising the significance of implementing effective and appealing loyalty programs that provide tangible and meaningful benefits.
  • 86% value early and exclusive access to products and services, demonstrating that customers appreciate feeling special and prioritised.
  • 83% are motivated by the prospect of winning a prize, suggesting that incorporating contests and sweepstakes into your marketing strategy can boost customer interaction and excitement surrounding your brand.

QSRs who recognise and address these consumer preferences can build loyalty by creating thoughtful engagement strategies. The implementation of a tailored value exchange ensures that customers feel heard, esteemed, and rewarded, which are vital elements for nurturing an enduring connection with your restaurant's brand.

3. Adopting Personalisation Strategies to Enhance Customer Experience

The expectations of customers continue to evolve, demanding authentic personalisation from the brands they frequent. However, many businesses still fall short, resorting to broad segmentation tactics in their messaging, causing a degree of disconnection. In fact, 49% of worldwide consumers express frustration with content and offers lacking relevance. An additional 42% voice discontent about brand messages failing to align with their desires and needs.

To bridge this gap, QSRs can create meaningful "experiences" that serve both as entertainment and education. This approach not only invigorates the customer journey but also facilitates the acquisition of Zero-Party Data required for true personalisation. These experiences can range from a simple product survey following a purchase, to innovative interactive campaigns such as sweepstakes, quizzes, and polls.

Maintaining the seasonal relevance of these initiatives can help capture valuable psychographic data, informing more tailored and impactful marketing strategies. Cross-channel promotional campaigns highlighting the fun and engagement offered by these experiences should be leveraged to heighten customer involvement. Remember, an integrated approach using platforms like email, social media, SMS, and display advertising holds the key to realising a truly immersive, personalised customer journey.

But most importantly, investing in advanced technology and analytics tools like Marigold can help drive personalisation efforts while creating unique and memorable customer experiences.

4. Balancing Privacy Concerns with Personal Data Collection

With 61% of customers viewing cookie-driven ads as an intrusive marketing tactic that leaves them feeling uncomfortable, QSRs must demonstrate a strong commitment to understand consumers' attitudes towards data privacy.

While customers appreciate and often expect personalised content, they emphasise the importance of being asked for consent to gather personal data, particularly when a brand engages with them on a different platform or device.

To build trust and allay concerns, restaurants should clearly communicate their privacy policies and ensure that data collection methods are transparent and follow industry best practices. QSRs can preserve customer trust while delivering relevant experiences by striking the right balance between personalisation and data privacy.

Instead of merely focusing on preference and consent questions, enrich the customer profile by including lifestyle-based queries relating to dietary restrictions, allergies, and favourite locations. Encouraging customers to explicitly share their preferences empowers QSRs to make data-driven marketing decisions that cater to individual needs.

5. Fostering Data Integrity and Trustworthiness to Strengthen Consumer Relationships

Data plays a crucial role in shaping customer experiences, especially when it comes to the online dining space. When it comes to trusting brands to deliver personalised offerings, most industries have seen a substantial 10% increase on average in consumer confidence.

The key to this success lies in fostering data integrity and trustworthiness, with an outstanding 82% of customers affirming that their favourite brands handle their data responsibly. In this data-driven era, it is crucial for QSRs to ensure that their practices align with global data privacy policies which mandate the explicit consent of users when using their data.

To build trust and maintain a solid relationship with diners, always include an "opt-in" button in your brand messages, allowing them to give permission for push notifications and data usage. This consent process should also clearly communicate how their data will be stored and utilised by the company. Furthermore, in the interests of transparency and respect for customer preferences, be sure to include "opt-out" options in every message and on each platform your QSR uses to engage with customers.

6. Addressing the Rising Cost of Living with Sensitivity and Adaptability

As the cost of living continues to rise, QSRs should be aware of the impact this has on their customer base and their purchasing decisions. A substantial half of all consumers are holding back on impulse buying. More consumers (51%) are doing research before making a purchase. Bargain hunting is also on the rise, with 47% of consumers opting to wait for sales. With a fairly comparable figure, a significant 46% depend on the benefits of customer loyalty programs when making purchases from their go-to brands.

For QSRs navigating this changing landscape, the focus should be on the long game - building enduring relationships with consumers. Hence, they should aim to develop strategies that offer value and create a sense of belonging. These may include personalised deals, tiered loyalty programs offering exclusive benefits, offering a range of price points, focusing on value for money, and promoting money-saving deals to cater to budget-conscious customers without compromising the quality of their offerings.

Being sensitive to the increasing financial strain on consumers and adapting marketing strategies accordingly is crucial to retaining a loyal customer base in challenging economic times.

Key Takeaway: Navigating Consumer Trends with Marigold

As QSRs navigate the challenges posed by evolving consumer trends, the Marigold approach to Relationship Marketing provides exceptional guidance for developing strong customer relationships.

Marigold delivers tailored solutions that recognise a QSR business's unique requirements, helping QSRs traverse the path from customer acquisition to engagement and loyalty. With Marigold's expert insights and strategies, businesses can remain adaptable in a rapidly changing consumer landscape, ensuring their marketing efforts resonate with customers and drive growth. Learn more at MeetMarigold.com!

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