Restaurant Industry News Roundup: April 2019
April showers bring May flowers, and we’re bringing you another round of news in the restaurant industry! From restaurant sale predictions for 2019 to KFC’s Virtual Influencer Colonel, we’re showering you with news across the industry.
Restaurant Sales on Pace for $863 Billion in 2019
According to the National Restaurant Association’s annual State of the Restaurant Industry Report, by the end of the year industry sales are expected to reach $863 billion. Operators also note their businesses are stronger than they were two years ago. When it comes to driving job growth across the industry, new technology and increasing consumer demands toward off-premise options are influencing it. Restaurants are encouraged to take note of consumer demand favoring off-premise options. Thirty-eight percent of adults in the United States are more likely to have food delivered to them from restaurants than they were two years ago.
Embracing technology is another step to restaurants seeing an increase in their sales and remaining competitive within the industry. Senior Vice President, Research and Knowledge Group, Hudson Riehle with the National Restaurant Association says, “Consumer demand for greater convenience and speed will continue to accelerate, and restaurants are responding by adopting and incorporating more sophisticated layers of technology into day-to-day operations.” QSR Magazine’s article suggests customer service technology including app ordering, mobile payment, and reservations be a priority when considering a technology investment. Other movements toward embracing restaurant technology include considering table management options for the back-of-house efforts and following the example of other restaurants in using social media to reach more people.
As Technology Expands, So Does the Definition of ‘Restaurant’
Delivery, drive-thru, and takeout make 63 percent of all restaurant traffic in 2019, according to Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President, Research and Knowledge Group at the National Restaurant Association. Due to the increasing efforts to invest in digital technology, the National Restaurant Association is now looking at the restaurant industry not through restaurant locations, but through “points of access.” What defines a restaurant is shifting and, in the years, ahead a restaurant could consist of a storefront without a dining room.
How can restaurants take advantage of consumer-facing technology? Riehle recommends sticking to the basics or that the necessary information that appears in a search should be timely and accurate. Seven in ten consumers view a restaurant’s menu online, and almost two-thirds look up information such as location, hours and directions. Newer technologies have lower user engagement, but many expect it to increase as time passes. Off-premise technology is still increasingly developing as four in ten operators are planning to expand their off-premise business within the year. For more information, click here.
Using Data to Build Emotional Loyalty with Customers
By considering data points from every part of the customer’s interaction, from point-of-sale data to social media interactions, this data can create a competitive advantage through creating more engaging experiences and, through continuous efforts, build emotional loyalty between brands and customers. Data, in general, can be collected and applied to help brands better understand their customer’s identity.
Hospitality Technology provides insights and benefits considering the data that can be collected. The data infrastructure needs to be stable to support a great loyalty program. The data points need to be flexible and customizable. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the data that needs to be tracked and analyzed and then determine the action’s ideal outcomes before you can create a loyalty program. Restaurant data also needs to be able to be accessible at any time, and the data needs to be real-time. Outdated customer views and lagging data isn’t an option because it can create unhappy customers. Other things to consider is being aware of the consequences of data caps and making sure that when analyzing behavioral data, the message needs to be on the right channel at the right time to ensure optimal engagement and further create brand loyalty with customers.
KFC Pokes Fun at Instagram Influencers with a Colonel Sanders version
KFC’s latest campaign introduces the Virtual Influencer Colonel, who is seemingly posting the brand’s content on Instagram. The social media campaign pokes fun at the reach that people and brands aspire to have through influencers. The revamped Virtual Influencer Colonel was created to promote partnerships between KFC and other companies including TurboTax, Old Spice, and Dr. Pepper.
In general, brands using influencers has steadily been gaining traction. According to Ad Age’s report in January, sponsored influencer posts on Instagram are up 39 percent from 2017. Ad Age interviewed the Virtual Influencer Colonel in this article.
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About the Author
Devyn Nance is the Marketing Coordinator at QSR Automations. She graduated from the University of Louisville with a bachelor’s degree in Communication and from Loyola University Chicago with a master’s degree in Global Strategic Communication. She considers herself an (amateur) profiler – trained solely from watching every episode of Criminal Minds. Outside of work, Devyn loves to shop, travel, hang out with friends and family, read, and watch shows on various streaming platforms.