Papa Murphy’s, Dunkin’, KFC & Founder’s Table Share How Dining is Innovating

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At a recent Brand Innovators’ Innovation in QSR + Restaurant Marketing livecast leaders from Papa Murphy’s, Dunkin’, KFC and Founders Table Restaurant Group shared how they are innovating to adapt to new consumer behaviors. 

The pandemic transformed the way we eat and QSRs and restaurant brands have shifted their ways of serving consumers to the new era. Whether it is through online ordering and app delivery or menu innovation and speed of service, the world of quick dining has forever changed.

At a recent Brand Innovators’ Innovation in QSR + Restaurant Marketing livecast leaders from Papa Murphy’s, Dunkin’, KFC and Founders Table Restaurant Group shared how they are innovating to adapt to new consumer behaviors. 

For Papa Murphy’s, offering family dinners has made life easier for busy consumers who have been balancing work and family and need quick well-rounded food options.

“The unkicked nature of our product gave versatility and consumer control over the end result, which is something that most of our competitors could not deliver upon in the same way that we could,” said Tracey Ayres, vice president of brand & innovation at Papa Murphy's.

“Given all of the different competitive categories, we realized that’s what we owned and we had been doing it for many years. We were experts in it so we started to get excited. We had something that really mattered to the millennial family. And as dietary needs change and philosophies change, how do we step out of our own comfort zone quite frankly and start showing up as a more exciting brand? Ultimately, we rooted our own identity in these unconventional approaches to meals.”

New menu items are appealing to consumers who have been focused on the smaller pleasures in life these days. 

“When we think about a restaurant, consumers have millions of choices of what they're going to eat for lunch,” said Melissa Hughes, senior director of brand marketing at Founders Table Restaurant Group. “Whether it’s cooking at home now versus ordering out, gaining that customer and keeping that customer in the QSR industry is a little bit tougher. When we think about CPG, auto-reorder was kind of a habit especially with Amazon and Walmart+ coming into the space. Consumers were just ordering the same things and not necessarily going into stores to see what's new. In this space, acquisition of a customer is one of the toughest things you can do and keeping them engaged is even tougher. The best way that Founders Table has been able to do it is by creating new items and new curated menu items.”

Dunkin’ has transformed its business model to provide the conveniences needed by modern consumers. Rather than drawing people in to hang out, the brand is focused on supplying coffee and food to people on the go.

“What people don’t know is that the family that started Dunkin’ started the first franchisee association in the country,” said Keith Lusby, vice President, Media & Partnerships, Dunkin'. “That idea of franchising out became something that Dunkin’ kind of invented. Over the years, as the number of restaurants grew, the ability to actually serve used to be at the counter. Dunkin’ has officially transformed its business now where it’s not about sitting down at a counter and getting served, our whole business model is speed. It’s about getting in and getting out. It manifested itself 15 years ago when we launched ‘America runs on Dunkin’’, ‘run’ being a keyword in that equation. Dunkin’ is actually a change leader in our industry and that’s what attracted me to the brand.”

KFC has found that testing new innovations requires flexibility across regions and that agility is the key to success.

“We have a lot more in common across markets than we do differently,” says Ashley Travis, director of digital CX at KFC Global. “We need to determine what is in common across markets that allow us to innovate and scale quickly and get capabilities as quickly as possible. But also, we have to maintain that flexibility within that framework so that each individual market can ensure that the brand is showing up in a very locally relevant way. That is very important to our brand.” 

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