To what degree can you anticipate guest preferences before they ever place their order? As the restaurant industry expands its digital marketing capabilities, make sure you’re positioned to stay a step ahead of your guests.
Restaurants going predictive?
At NRF 2023: Retail’s Big Show, panelists for the session “Restaurant brands that don’t play by the rules” were asked to make predictions about the industry’s future. Inspire Brands Vice President of Demand Generation Travis Freeman forecasted predictive capabilities as the hallmark of tomorrow’s successful restaurants, or rather, a future in which “Businesses know what the guests want before they do.”
With the advent of digital technologies, guest expectations for personalized, convenient experiences continue to rise, and restaurants that want to compete need to have mechanisms in place to capture and capitalize on guest preferences, and fast. While we may not have the crystal ball algorithm perfected just yet, how can restaurants fast-track their ways to new levels of guest insight?
First, you need the data
As Freeman explained, restaurants are already putting technologies like real-time analytics to work to be more attuned to customer preferences. Segmentation is an important piece of that puzzle, since the needs and wants of a given demographic can vary widely when it comes to menu items, price sensitivity, channel preferences and more.
But before you can segment, you need data—and lots of it. This can be a challenge for many restaurant operations, especially those dealing with outdated POS systems. Many struggle to identify, understand and engage the individuals behind in-person transactions. Restaurants have also struggled over data ownership in the past with third-party delivery partners like UberEats.
POS data is the key to unlocking first-party insights
To truly understand what guests want from the restaurant experience, and engage them on those preferences, you need to start building a solid foundation of first-party data. One source of this type of data is a loyalty program. While the QSR space has enjoyed a good bit of success with rewards programs, most can only provide a partial snapshot of guests, since not everyone participates.
Ultimately, it’s critical to look beyond loyalty and start homing in on transaction data. You can identify more guests through an identity resolution solution. By leveraging POS data in a privacy-safe way, you can begin to understand your guests at a more granular level. Furthermore, by expanding and enhancing that first-party data with second and third-party insights, you can also increase the number of attributes with which to segment audiences.
Get ahead of guest preferences with segmentation
Once you have comprehensive, unified guest profiles, you can begin to base your targeting decisions on attributes like actual purchases, preferred items, frequency, price sensitivity, daypart, and more. Some “predictive” capabilities are already at your disposal. For example, if you’re considering a new menu item, you can create segments who are most likely to order that item based on their history of ordering similar or related items—then target them with personalized messages and offers related to the item.
Don’t forget to confirm the accuracy of your predictions. The same identity resolution solution that helps you identify guests who might like a new item can also help you understand the new item’s impact on the menu—and the overall business.
We helped a QSR client determine that a new menu item attracted new customers, grew average check by 6% and monthly spend by 5%.
Look to the future with Bridg
We may not be able to see into the future (just yet) but new capabilities like offline identity resolution are making it easier to understand and engage guests. The more comprehensive the guest profile, the more you can anticipate wants, needs and preferences (then directly measure the impact of the subsequent campaigns).
We help restaurants unite data from all guest touchpoints to create privacy-safe, comprehensive profiles using POS data, bank transaction data and our proprietary census of offline identity and behavior. Contact us to learn more.