How CX Is Impacting Consumer Preferences For Emerging Fast-Casual Brands
Capturing new customers is a foundational pillar of a successful fast-casual restaurant brand, but the ability to retain these first-time patrons is the true signifier of a leading Customer Experience. As the power dynamics shift between different customer segments, it is important that your brand is monitoring the way that each group perceives your current offerings, and that you formulate a specific plan as to how you will attract and retain your target customer demographic. For instance, in the past, speed, convenience and price point were considered the major contributors to a successful quick-service restaurant brand, but now there is more value in creating a high-quality and diverse menu at a slightly higher price point. Transitioning your emerging brand into an organization with staying power in an industry with such high turnover rates requires consistently measuring the customer perception of the overall experience you provide, as a tool to understand and act on these evolving preferences.
The fast-casual and quick-service restaurant industry is undergoing a significant increase in popularity, with more people looking for a quick and relatively cheap option, without surrendering their access to high quality service and products. In fact, the industry has accrued seven straight years of positive growth, totaling $780 billion dollars in 2017. Traditional quick-service and fast-casual brands are now being forced to re-evaluate their market position because of the evolving desires of the typical customer. People want more diverse dining options than provided by the traditional fast-food establishment, opening up the opportunities for these higher-end options.
Another impactful trend in this industry is the proliferation of different ordering technologies. In the past, convenience was offered via rapid speed of service and enhanced drive-thru technologies, but now this value is being taken care of via eCommerce channels. Online ordering for both takeout and delivery is wildly popular, with food delivery estimated to grow by almost 200% between 2016 and 2021. Fast-casual brands need to make sure they are churning out positive customers via these interactions, because it is an easy source of establishing loyalty. If it is supremely easy to log on and find your usual order, customers will undoubtedly come back to your brand, and many brands will increase the ante by offering loyalty rewards programs within their online ordering cycle. By establishing this loyalty via online interactions, your brand will be cementing its place as a significant player in the industry, especially as these avenues become more pervasive.
One specific segment that fast-casual brands should be catering their services towards are millennials. This group has a growing influence in the modern market, with an estimated $200 billion purchasing power at restaurants alone. Additionally, millennials spend 10.6% more at restaurants on average than any other generation, so if you can establish a high level of loyalty early on you are setting your brand up for decades of success. As online channels have increased accessibility to virtually every kind of product or service, millennials are actively searching for experiences on which to spend their money. Emerging fast-casual brands can capitalize on this desire by consistently rolling out new menu items and special offers to ensure that customers do not get bored and are itching to return and try the next upcoming promoted item.
Consumer preferences in the fast-casual industry are shifting towards brands with a great Customer Experience. Organizations that are able to effectively measure, analyze and act-on these customer preferences will find that they are establishing successful long-term relationships and are positioning themselves for decades of continued success. Specifically, if your brand is able to utilize online ordering technology as part of the overall experience and is able to attract and retain a solid base of millennial customers, it will quickly become a leader in the industry.
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