Let’s start here: as much as we sometimes don’t want to admit it, people are lazy. Weeks are hard. Work gets busy. Look at the success of Amazon and you can name dozens of reasons for it, including them being ahead on cloud. At base, you know what the reason is? They helped monetize laziness, whether that was ordering dog food, ordering a movie, or whatever else. Meet your customer where they’re at, and acknowledge they’re probably a little bit lazy.
The food service world is the apex of this. Look at these three stats, if you will:
Now think about your own life. We know the big names: Favor, PostMates, Uber Eats, etc. (Uber Eats is actually killing the profit line of McDonald’s franchise owners, which is a great “new business” vs. “traditional business” case study opportunity for the business school-minded among you.)
Having mobile/digital ordering is a baseline now. It was a “nice to have” for restaurant owners and their marketing teams. Now it’s a “need to have.”
Domino’s comes to mind. By some measure, they reinvented their entire business model around mobile/digital ordering. And the whole “startup methodology” concept extends to the idea that they constantly experiment with what they’re doing around mobile. For example, in February 2019 they announced a new loyalty program, which summarizes as follows:
Order pizza from Domino's? You can get Domino's points.
Order pizza from Papa John's? You can get Domino's points.
Order pizza from Pizza Hut? You can get Domino's points.
Order pizza from your local pizzeria that's way better than Domino's? You can get Domino's points.
Spend a romantic date night at home in the kitchen making a homemade pizza with your sweetie and pairing it with a nice bottle of red? You can get Domino's points.
Make your own pathetic excuse for a pizza by spreading marinara sauce from a jar on an English muffin and adding a little shredded cheese? You can get Domino's points.
In essence, you get points for eating from rivals. Burger King did something similar in late 2018, and that campaign was lauded. The math on the idea actually works out, especially because 60 percent of Dominos orders are now digital (remember about laziness, above). The campaign drives downloads, and downloads means more people ordering. It’s a brand awareness campaign that leads into a lead generation campaign. Those are the best kind.
Chipotle, Taco Bell, & Red Robin
Chipotle has used mobile to try and reinvent the drive-through lane, and -- partnership alert! -- Taco Bell got in bed with GrubHub on a national “Recipe for Success” campaign.
That latter one is interesting, because Taco Bell has the resources and the scale to launch their own marketing efforts in-app, but they went with a partnership because it made sense for both sides. It exposes more people to GrubHub and reduces the burden on Taco Bell as the delivery provider. What’s more: T-Bell (a nickname, perhaps) merged their point of sale system right into GrubHub’s infrastructure, meaning that 1:30am Chalupa is made to order, not sitting around on a shelf. Win-win.
Red Robin, which has been behind the digital curve, recently launched a “Mobile Yum” truck to cross the U.S. and get more intel from customers on what they want from a mobile carry-out/delivery experience. Then you have apps like Ritual, based out of Toronto, that help busy employees go pick up lunch without having to wait in line. Ritual has a built-in feature called Piggyback that allows co-workers to make bulk orders on anything, i.e. coffee. And if you’re wondering how that business model works? For restaurants, Ritual provides real-time data on store experience, food quality, and customer satisfaction metrics. Ritual makes money by taking a 10-to-13 percent fee from restaurant sales that the app generates; if a restaurant brings in a customer on their own, they pay no fee for transactions on the app.
There are already research reports and predictions that Gen Z will have a “seismic” impact on the food service and restaurant industry, largely in the context of mobile coming to the forefront and delivery/carry-out being the focus of the entire sales and marketing effort. As you can see above, we’re already more than halfway there -- and those that haven’t embraced it are rushing to catch up. If you work in restaurants, remember: laziness is always a good place to start the argument, and then add in pervasiveness of smartphones, and you’ve got your play. Now it’s time to get creative.
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