We’re here to share our experience in helping quick service restaurants get the maximum impact from their marketing and development budgets, increase profitability through innovation, and anticipate and meet consumer needs and demands.
We’re all quite familiar with the proposed beverage ban that was unveiled this spring. While this is isolated to the New York City area now, those in the industry are closely watching the developments. The Department of Health in New York will vote on the proposal in September but until then, “Everyone is watching this as a benchmark law,” according to Joe Pawlak, vice president at the food industry research firm Technomic who was quoted in a recent USA Today article.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue personally, the impact to the food and beverage industry has the potential to be significant. In a time when carbonated beverage volumes are declining, revenues could be further jeopardized as a result. Profit margins on fountain drinks are traditionally substantial for those that pour carbonated beverages and iced teas, the products that would be primarily affected by the regulation. The official denotation for the 16-ounce cap is on sweetened drinks that have more than 25 calories per eight ounces. Establishments such as restaurants, movie theaters, sports stadiums and street carts are all on alert.
The volatile topic has created much dispute and subsequent marketing efforts from both the New York City government and anti-ban organizations that have banded together to fight the plan. Both large companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi and mom-and-pop food sellers are joining forces with the American Beverage Association and others to make their voices heard. From social media to radio to airplane banners, petitions and subway ads, both sides are fighting to take a stand for their position.
The food and beverage landscape is changing continually. From mandatory nutritional information on menus to this potential restriction on selling large sugary beverages, the industry is evolving with political and cultural trends. Time will tell on the specific effects but for now, all eyes will be watching what happens in New York in the coming months.
Many QSRs of late have shifted their product mix and subsequent marketing efforts to focus on fresh, quality ingredients. Most notable is Wendy’s, who recently launched “Wendy’s Way” to showcase consumer choices and the benefit of quality ingredients and fresh preparation. While Wendy’s has the scale to roll this out in a big way, there are many localized establishments that are built around this premise and serve fresh, high quality ingredients to customers every day. One such establishment in the southern suburbs of Kansas City is Unforked.
While some may not think of Kansas City as a restaurant mecca like larger cities, there certainly are many gems. With one location, Unforked has established itself as a quick serve with a commitment to quality and innovation. They put a stake in the ground and judging by the packed house on a recent Saturday afternoon, it’s resonating with consumers.
Unforked’s mission and core values are simple and to the point:
To provide unparalleled flavor, high quality ingredients and nutrient-packed options for diners (dine in, catered and drive-thru) in a quick service environment.
Practice sustainable innovation in all areas of operation.
Provide quality meats and culinary care equivalent to the White House or a Five Star restaurant.
Take full responsibility for the food we serve.
Provide transparency regarding food origins and menu item ingredients so diners can make informed food decisions.
Buy, promote and support local ingredients first.
All aspects of the business reflect the promises above. The décor is sleek yet comfortable and inviting. The menu is unique and innovative and the food is colorful–it pops against the neutrals of the décor. It all screams “fresh” and if you go on to their website, you can see which local farmers and businesses they support.
Unforked doesn’t have a multi-million dollar advertising campaign behind it, but that fits right in with the character of the brand. They know why they do what they do and their actions are convincing enough. Unforked is an example of a one-chain restaurant, adding some good to the world.
Do you know of any larger QSRs or fast casual chains following the same principles?
In November 2008, a deal-of-the-day website named Groupon launched. Heard of it? Yes, we all know and have likely used Groupon or the many competitors that have been established since.
QSR Magazine points to a 2011 study by ForeSee that showed 65% of online shoppers subscribe to at least one daily deal email. Two-thirds of these subscribers had purchased a deal in the last three months and 89% of them redeemed it.
So we can see that these deals are popular among consumers but how are they impacting your business?
The daily deal has changed the way consumers buy and a result, the way businesses think about using these incentives. In a time when consumers are more aware of their spending, the daily deal has traditionally provided the opportunity to generate trial. The discounts are significant and, based on the statistics above, many consumers take advantage of those savings.
While these deals may encourage trial initially, it becomes a challenge for businesses to hold on to the deal hunters and turn them into loyal customers. The consumer mindset is to wait for another deal that will inevitably come through with the next email.
What was once a reliable short-term tactic has made merchants stop and think about the long-term impact on their profit. As a result of hesitation, new options for businesses have sprouted up recently. Enter the next iteration of the daily deal known as the inverted deal.
According to another recent QSR Magazine article, the “inverted deal” does everything right that the daily-deal model does wrong. The discount is delivered to consumers when they buy something for the first time. Like a credit, it is baked into the payment versus pre-paid up front. Consumers make their purchase decisions before the discount is applied so they are aware of the full price value of the item or service.
In addition, the credit is thought of as bonus savings so consumers are more likely to spend more than the deal amount. After the initial savings, repeat visits encourage progress toward additional credits and savings. This model resembles a loyalty program more than the daily deal ever did.
There are several companies and mobile apps popping up that utilize this model. Time will tell if these become as widespread as Groupon. One thing is for sure, there are now more choices for you to find the best solution for your business.
In today’s environment, consumers have great expectations. They have increasingly more access to information and a direct line to interact personally with brands. When it comes right down to it, consumers want brands to be real in all aspects. And that includes how they contribute to and impact society.
Doing good comes in many different forms. It can be getting your brand behind a charitable program or creating positive change for your industry. It may have a positive impact on society while also impacting your bottom line costs. It can be as simple as starting a worthwhile conversation. Regardless of the form, doing good is thought-provoking, personal and creates long-lasting values.
Level 1: Industry relevance. Support the issues and platforms of your industry. Find a natural fit for your brand and your industry.
Level 2: Community relevance. Your customers are most likely members of your community so offer support to causes that are relevant to your local community. It speaks volumes and in turn breeds customer loyalty.
Level 3: Target relevance. You most likely know about your target audience from your marketing efforts. Ensure that your philanthropic efforts resonate with this audience and support their values as well.
Level 4: Brand platform relevance. Align this effort with your brand position as you would any other marketing effort. It should reinforce what you stand for and how you identify yourself to others.
Level 5: Value relevance. Generate shared value. While there is benefit to your brand, there should also be value to others.
At Barkley, we believe that every corporation we work with has something good at its core and a reason they do what they do. We recognize that we also have a responsibility to add something good to the world.
Good matters to your customers, so make it matter to you as well.
In a time of fierce competition in the restaurant category, brands are continually looking for ways to connect with their current and future customers. While consumers may ultimately be looking for a deal, that may not be the deciding factor when making buying decisions.
Consumers are faced with many choices and are always seeking ways to distinguish from one brand to another. A personal connection with a brand can go a long way in a consumer’s mind. Brands that can demonstrate that they are genuine, interactive and have a personality may find they have an advantage. In this era of one-on-one communication via social media, online videos are one way for brands to achieve that.
As more and more brands understand that video content is now viewed on multiple screens, they are embracing the use of video as a component of their digital marketing strategy. Video can be an element of paid, owned or earned media but in all cases can provide an opportunity for engagement—an underlying goal of many brands. It can be an important messaging delivery vehicle that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Ruth Sherman, an executive speech and media coach as well as strategic communications consultant, was quoted in a recent QSR Magazine article talking about “tearing down the walls.” She says that video is a “unique and compelling way to connect with customers that cannot be achieved in writing,” and that it allows for “tearing down the walls to your business, to you, to your life.”
Video can open up the door to showcasing a brand’s personality or create a persona, allowing them to be seen as genuine and real. It may also showcase content other than that which is produced for other video channels such as television spots. Here are a few examples:
As the marketing landscape continues to evolve, it is important for brands to be flexible and aware of their customers’ expectations. According to Sherman, companies will be left behind if they don’t embrace video marketing. “It’s a runaway train, and if they don’t jump on soon, they’re going to miss it. Because if they’re not going to do it, I guarantee their competitor will.”
How is your brand using online video to stand out?