Ahead of the Queue
The changing QSR model was blossoming long before Covid-19 pushed it further into the limelight. Service options like mobile oriented delivery and takeout, enhanced loyalty plays, and digital in-store experiences were already prominent features of the agile industry. QSRs always seemed to be a step ahead of the game, adopting trends and embracing innovative thinking before of many of its retail counterparts from other verticals. And when the pandemic hit, QSRs doubled down even further, expediting development of novel loyalty tactics and marketing rhetoric that offered customers something that the pandemic seemed to steal away: personalization.
It makes sense when you ponder the behavioral implications behind the pattern. The pandemic has stripped away the unique attributes of customers, assimilating large groups of people behind the homogenizing curtain of safety constraints. In a world where shopping itself is an affirmed form of self-expression, people are seeing a new paradigm of anonymity due to various restrictions and protective measures. Under these circumstances, shoppers long for personalization strategies that can bring back their sense of individuality.
And once again, QSR has faced these challenges head on: a recent review by PYMNTS.com, in collaboration with Paytronix, has yielded further insight into the nuanced environment of loyalty and rewards for this turbulent industry. Given that personalized loyalty and rewards programs are the single most common feature that consumers say could entice them to increase the amount they spend on food order, success with these strategies is paramount to restaurant survival in 2021 and beyond.
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The study is quite revealing, and sheds light in the critical importance of tactical variety within marketing schemes, and the ability to bridge the online and offline worlds for seamless personalized experiences. Three out of four customers now order food from both online and offline channels, underscoring the need for restaurants to provide a mix of both digital and analogue avenues for convenient customer access. And most important, personalized, value-add rewards and loyalty must be deftly woven into this channel matrix, providing unforgettable touchpoints for searching fingertips. Seventy percent of QSR customers who order using both online and offline channels would like to engage with rewards programs via their QSRs’ mobile apps, for example, while 28 percent would like to engage with rewards via digital wallet. And for customers who order online and offline from restaurants that previously offered sit-down service before the pandemic began, 30 percent would like to be given a physical loyalty card for their patronage.
Sometimes it can be challenging to isolate long-term trends within complex ecosystems. As it stands, all industries are changing so rapidly that pundits have a tough time keeping up with the bigger picture of long-term behavioral analysis. But the report from PYMNTS.com and Paytronix tells a clear story: 87% of customers plan to continue their pandemic-influenced buying habits even after Covid-19 has subsided. This pandemic may well have accelerated a paradigm shift, but in the world of QSR, a personalized approach to loyalty has long been in the cards.