Do Chain Restaurants Need Customer Data?

Customer data can be used to better shape the customer experience and drive higher lifetime value for individual locations and the entire brand.

Restaurant Chains use Customer Data

Yes, chain restaurants need customer data. Especially data that allows them to look at the experience they provide customers, and how that experience shapes lifetime value.

For an example of this, look no further than McDonald’s acquisition of Dynamic Yield, a move that will allow the multinational brand to use big data to personalize its offerings to consumers across the globe. McDonald’s acquisition is but one of many recent moves we’ve seen across the industry as restaurants try to better meet the experiential expectations of their tech-obsessed customers.

Why chain restaurants need customer data now more than ever

Why are QSRs and chain restaurants bothering with data, considering how well the industry has done over the last decade (total sales for the period of 2010 to 2020 are in the trillions of dollars)? 

The answer lies in history.

Established brands (e.g. McDonald’s) have been around long enough to know that success today is no guarantee of success tomorrow—they’ve seen too many of their industry peers disappear.   

To ensure they don’t go the way of Burger Chef, Sambo’s, or Howard Johnson’s, chains and QSRs know they need to prepare for the future. They need data to keep pace with ever-shifting consumer tastes, dining habits, and general behaviors.

In an era where consumers are spending more money dining out than ever before, the restaurants that learn to use data-driven insights to deliver a better experience will be the ones that take home the lion’s share of revenue. 

What data allows

Data, be it first-party or third-party, allows QSRs and chains to track things like order location, order preferences, and order frequency. These data points give restaurant chains and QSRs the insights they need to optimize their existing operations (menu offerings, inventory, operating hours, etc.) and marketing strategies. 

Most importantly, data allows for the cultivation of increasingly personalized interactions with consumers that enhance brand loyalty by as much as 30%.

For chain restaurants, obtaining lift in diner loyalty has never been so vital because the industry is saturated with choice. Right now there are more than one million restaurants in the United States alone. More choices mean more competition, and that competition means restaurants have to work harder than ever to win new diners (a reality that makes the retention of existing diners all the more important). 

In a world where consumers demand speed, personalization, and ease from every business they patronize, restaurant chains have to pursue of data-based optimization. 

Making the most of mobile

For chain restaurants, the most valuable data comes from mobile ordering.

Mobile ordering is a looking glass into consumer behavior at the individual level. When restaurants succeed in getting their customers to order through mobile, they can collect all kinds of data. Things like order size, order frequency, order type (dine-in or pick-up), and order location (both where the consumer is when they place the order, and which chain location they chose to place the order at). 

Of course, data collection isn’t the only advantage of mobile. The convenience of mobile ordering encourages patronage (45% of diners are more likely to patronize a restaurant that offers mobile ordering). It also helps chains and QSRs generate more business than they otherwise would. Mobile alone is already responsible for driving $40 billion in restaurant sales. 

In that sense, mobile delivers on two fronts: 

  1. It encourages patronization.
  2. It gives restaurants keen, data-backed insights they can use to deliver the speed, personalization, and ease diners desire. 

With that data at your fingertips, building an engaging, meaningful relationship with consumers should be easier for your restaurant than ever.

So, for all those reasons, YES, chain restaurants need customer data.

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