What’s the point of digitally engaging customers? Does it really help drive brand loyalty? These are a few of the big-picture tech questions that Technomic helped answer during day two of its Consumer Insights Planning Program conference in Newport Beach, Calif.
Here are three of the findings, and the two restaurants that are ahead of the curve in addressing them.
1. Tech doesn’t boost loyalty
“For the most part, we’re not seeing data support that digital engagement is directly affecting loyalty. Domino’s is the one brand in our whole entire database of 135-plus brands where you can visibly link technology with brand loyalty,” said Rich Shank, Technomic’s director of consumer insights.
He recommended that operators study Domino’s tech model and how the brand uses technology to ease and enhance both its own and its customers’ experience.
2. Tech marketing minefields
“Most consumers will appreciate cool tech innovation that elevates their dining experience,” said Donna Hood Crecca, Technomic’s associate principal. “What they don’t take to kindly is when operators say they’re using more technology because they don’t want to pay increasing labor wages.”
Although 59% of consumers believe kiosk ordering will become more prevalent due to increasing minimum wage, 53% say they will have a decreased opinion of a restaurant that automates labor as a response, showed Technomic data.
3. Millennials embrace a cashless lifestyle
Millennials are driving the trend toward mobile payment and an increasingly cashless society, said Crecca. A third of millennials use Apple Pay or a mobile payment service to pay for their food at restaurants, showed Technomic data. Fast-casual chain Sweetgreen tested a cashless policy at select stores last spring, and apparently it was well-received, because the chain is expanding the policy systemwide this year.
This week's head-spinning restaurant moments included a suggestion in court that the "b" in IHOb stood for "bad news for Applebee's." That's just one of the long-shot gambles that came to light as oddsmakers considered the likelihood of restaurants charging into sports betting and who'll win the chain vs. independent bout.