Digital innovation has been a core driver of the QSR and restaurant category since the pandemic, and will become even more important as prices rise and consumers are more selective with how and where they spend their money.
Expect QSR and restaurant brands to compete by delivering seamless experiences enabled by digital innovation–whether that is with quick food delivery or pick up, integration with loyalty programs or even immersive experiences. AI, as in other industries, will likely play a role.
“I see digital continuing to become a larger portion of the QSR business, ranging from improved personalization, seamless loyalty integration, optimizing the delivery and pick-up experience, and increasing marketing spend across streaming and digital channels,” Ryan Ostrom, chief marketing officer at Jack in the Box. “However, the major key theme of 2024 will focus on improving labor costs that includes more integration of AI solutions and optimizing as many activities as possible to provide more profitability for our franchisees.”
Digital innovation will be key to consumers in 2024 who will seek out dining ideas from social media channels and expect more seamless customer experiences when they go out to restaurants or fast food chains.
“I anticipate we’ll see drive thru as a sustained trend led by Gen Z, and more brands investing in platforms that prioritize seamless mobile ordering and delivery to cut down time from discovery to decision,” says Scott Finlow, chief marketing officer of PepsiCo Global Foodservice. “The way foodies discover restaurants and products has shifted drastically, and social media platforms like TikTok have played a big part in that. It is going to be pivotal to reach Gen Z on social media and become a part of culture with real-time responses to events.”
Brand marketers across industries have noted the growing importance of seeking positive experiences in 2024, and this will be especially important for restaurants next year.
“Looking ahead to 2024, consumer expectations will focus on experiential dining. Specifically, social first experiences fueled by product innovation that delivers an emotional connection, sparking moments that matter,” says Heidi Rogers, senior vice president of marketing at BJ’s Restaurants. “We are seeing the culmination of recent changes in consumer behavior coupled with the rise of user generated content shifting how brands are engaging with their consumers and, the name of the game is personalization and with the help of conversational AI, technology will continue to play a pivotal role in this transformation for the restaurant industry. Consumers expect now more than ever a tailor-made experience and augmented/virtual reality will allow brands to create immersive experiences.”
Restaurant brands will be able to compete by offering these types of immersive experiences and ensuring that the offerings – food, service and space – is what the customer is looking for.
“Where we eat, what we eat, and what we expect from restaurants continues to evolve and is also influenced by media and pop culture. All of those things together equal brand relevancy,” says Kieran Donahue, chief marketing officer at IHOP. “For IHOP, being relevant to the families and guests we serve is showing up where it matters most to our customers; experience, quality, and price equate to value and relevancy for our guests. Being relevant requires brands to be steadfast in their efforts to be customer centric; focus on delivering what is most important to your brand’s consumer to maintain relevancy. That is what brands that stand the test of time have always done.”