Almost three out of four (70%) U.S. consumers use their mobile devices as part of their interactions with fast-food and fast-casual restaurants, per a survey commissioned by ad-tech firm AdTheorent and shared with Mobile Marketer.
Fifty-eight percent of consumers cited digital ads as a top driver of restaurant visits, ahead of TV ads (39%), new menu items (31%), email from restaurant (28%) and billboard ads (13%), per the survey.
In terms of payments, 49% of consumers said they prefer to pay with a mobile wallet app or credit card instead of cash at fast-food and fast-casual restaurants. The portion of consumers who use a mobile wallet at a fast-food restaurant grew to 19% this year from 11% two years ago. For fast-casual chains, the percentage grew to 18% from 12% for the same period, per the survey. The findings were based on an online Harris Poll survey of 2,050 U.S. adults.
AdTheorent's "Dining Trends Report" concludes that restaurants need to have a robust mobile marketing strategy to connect with customers and drive sales, with the findings indicating that digital advertising, including mobile and desktop promotions, is the most important way to motivate consumers to visit a restaurant and that mobile payments are a must-have.
Compared with two years ago, consumers today are more likely to see ads and offers from restaurants, place orders for delivery or pickup and make payments on their smartphones. Those trends are likely to gain momentum as more restaurant chains expand mobile functionality and develop personalized offers based on consumer information gathered through mobile platforms.
With 70% of consumers using their mobile devices in their digital interactions with restaurants, several behaviors stand out. Forty-two percent of consumers said they use their mobile devices to look for restaurant coupons and deals, making it the most popular dining-related activity ahead of looking up menu items (38%), searching for the nearest location (37%), placing a food order (32%) and paying for a food order (28%).
One-third of consumers said they're placing more take-out or delivery food orders through a mobile app now than they did two years ago. More than half (56%) of consumers said the ability to place orders through a mobile app makes them order more frequently from a restaurant, while 57% have downloaded an app for a fast-food or fast-casual chain and 44% have a food delivery service app.
It's crucial for restaurant chains to motivate customers to download their apps, with (89%) of those consumers who have apps for fast-food or fast-casual chains saying they use them at least once a month. More than half (59%) of consumers who have restaurant apps use them once a week or more. Digital advertising is most effective at driving app downloads, with 43% of consumers who have a restaurant app saying they were motivated to download it after seeing a mobile or computer ad, ahead of TV ads (22%) and billboards (7%).
When it comes to restaurant advertising, several kinds of promotions are most appealing to consumers. More than one-third (38%) of consumers said they can be motivated to act on a special offer, making such promotions more popular than a location-based coupon (26%), an ad featuring a food item (26%), a personalized ad (24%) or an ad that is eye-catching or unique (21%).
Competitive conquesting can be an effective marketing tactic, with 24% of consumers saying they would be compelled to visit a rival if they received a competitor's mobile ad while on the way to a restaurant. That willingness to be swayed by a geolocated offer explains the popularity of Burger King's "Whopper Detour" campaign that last year drove 1.5 million downloads of its app. The burger chain offered a free Whopper sandwich to app users who walked within 600 feet of a McDonald's location to lure them away.