Don’t bury Fast Food yet.

Cancel the funeral for fast food. When McDonald’s revealed their same-store sales growth and revenue for the first financial quarter of 2017 this past April, the numbers surprised even their own CEO. In just a few months, the golden arches earned $5.68 billion in sales (beating their $5.53 billion expectations) and their domestic same-store sales growth had risen 1.7 percent, a far cry from the 0.8 percent decline the company had anticipated.

In a dining landscape that more and more frequently favors fresh, local ingredients and farm-to-table menu concepts, these numbers are thrilling for the overcrowded and much-maligned fast food industry. Such growth is a reminder to other fast food restaurant chains that in an age where customers have more dining options than ever, the industry must think outside the box in order to set themselves apart. For McDonald’s, that means focusing on four pillars (menu innovation, store renovations, digital ordering and deliver) in order to retain long-time customers and re-introduce themselves to consumers that moved on a long time ago.

In their successful first quarter of 2017, McDonald’s attempted to capture attention in an increasingly overcrowded marketplace with big announcements and enticing limited time offers. The company announced that they would no longer be serving frozen beef patties on their burgers (something other burger juggernauts like Wendy’s have been claiming to offer for years). McDonald’s also rolled out three different sizes of their classic Big Mac, offered $1 soft drinks and $2 McCafe beverages, and expanded all-day breakfast offerings. In other words, smart uses of LTOs and a commitment to healthier options, along with the value and convenience that a fast food restaurant represents, are doing their part to save Ronald and his pals from extinction.

The industry isn’t slowing down; if anything, they’re doing everything they can to grow, evolve and stay relevant.

How fast food keeps getting off the mat

A huge part of the fast food industry’s success on both global and domestic levels is the familiarity and comfort the restaurants provide. Consumers can walk into the Pizza Hut down the street from their house or one in Hong Kong, for example, and have a similar experience; they know what they’re getting themselves into. In an age where consumers have so many choices, that comfort can go a long way. The reasons fast food became a dominant part of the food landscape in the first place hold true – people want food quickly and cheaply. It doesn’t matter if that food is processed or higher in calories than a health-conscious population would perhaps like it to be.

Such reasons, and many others, are why the U.S. fast food industry grossed $200 billion in 2015. That is a far cry from the $6 billion the industry earned back in 1970. The industry isn’t slowing down; if anything, they’re doing everything they can to grow, evolve and stay relevant. That desire for relevancy includes going after the most coveted marketing demographic: millennials. Fast food chains have joined the home delivery bandwagon, partnering with companies like Postmates to bring their cheap and convenient eats to consumers’ homes.

Don’t bury me, I’m not dead yet.

Recently, McDonald’s released some inspired advertising targeting that same demographic. The company tapped actress Mindy Kaling (the internet’s best friend) to star in a series of commercials. The twist? The ads never once mention the name of the restaurant they’re promoting, focusing instead on aspects of the recognizable brand that we know to be true. The ads prove that McDonald’s has the name recognition and savvy to evolve with the times and make their case for continued relevancy.

McDonald’s recent successes are proof that the fast food industry is not dead, nor is it going anywhere anytime soon. The upward tick in the industry will likely continue, but only if restaurants take big steps to change and grow with the dining landscape. What’s gotten them this far won’t take them any farther, and the industry would do well to remember that.

Brand recognition vs. Exclusivity

All of these are brands that have an Oreos product on their menu: Baskin Robbins, Burger King, Dairy Queen, Dunkin’ Donuts, Jack In The Box, McDonalds, etc. Drawing in a large audience means finding items with mass recognition and appeal. Oreos has done a great job over the past decade of growing recognition and revising their brand appeal through quirky messages and tone largely on social media platforms.

Media fragmentation has made it hard for impatient brands to build products as quickly as they want. Stunts like the Unicorn Frappuccino or mass media vehicles like Shark Tank are some of the ways brands try to break through.

Oreos’ high awareness makes them an idea partner for product or LTOs. People’s recognition of the name sets expectations for the flavor and experience of the product. This make the product appealing for consumers and for brands in need of hits.

The Oreos logo or the distinctive cookie on the menu board or in a TV tag is certainly a positive. The question is how many different menu boards can have that logo before consumers feel the product is no longer different. Differences, even subtle ones, are what drive favorability and preference for consumers. Jack in the Box new use of flavored ‘butters’ is a good example.

As you can see, the Oreo trend is probably going to be successful for each of these brands. It will ultimately be more successful for Mondelez as they grow awareness and preference for Oreos.

Top QSR menus have plenty of similarities, they are nearly standardized. Hamburgers, french fries, chicken sandwiches, salads and shakes. Burger King has made strides in growth by finding novel takes on these standards going all the way back to onion rings, but including Chicken Fries and the addition of hot dogs. Jack in the Box has focused on the ‘munchie’ set with their tacos and late night special combo offers.

For either brand an LTO is the way to create difference and (hopefully) traffic. Oreo has proven to be a brand that generates interest from consumers; whether to retailers with unique flavor varieties or product partnerships like these QSR LTOs. It is strategically sound to add such a differentiator to the menu as an LTO. Look at the success Sriracha has had in its own partnership and licensing deals.

Oreos, LTO, QSR
Oreos, Oreos everywhere!

But it is less clear whether there is any advantage to having a ‘me too’ product. Once Burger King launches an Oreo product, Jack in the Box should be pursuing other ingredient partners or LTOs altogether. The attention Oreo provides will be there in a diminished capacity.

McDonald’s has its successful McCafe line and its powerful $1 beverage offer that drives value. The Oreo offer for them probably works best to fend off the challengers by eliminating differences in the dessert or beverage category.
The biggest and most visited restaurant chain has made the Oreo shake a standard.

Going back to Sriracha, their rise to near omnipresence on menu boards (and as a flavor additive in CPG products) was inarguably better for their brand than for any of their partners. Having a Sriracha flavored item on the menu became an expectation, not a surprise and delight it was originally, for consumers.

As you can see, the Oreo trend is probably going to be successful for each of these brands. It will ultimately be more successful for Mondelez as they grow awareness and preference for Oreos. The impressions the brand receives through LTO promotion by QSRs is a huge value, though certainly factored into the licensing negotiations.

If there is one way both brands could expand the benefit of partnership or continue to create differentiation it would be to add alternate Oreos flavors to LTOs in lieu of the original flavor. At least one brand has a Golden Oreo variety in some markets. If exclusive, this is a way to get the benefit of Oreos’ awareness and the exclusivity needed to break through parity.

Transcript of Food & Restaurant Podcast – Is your brand ready for a mobile app?

Transcript of Food & Restaurant Marketing Podcast – Episode: Is your brand ready for a mobile app?

Read these companion articles, too: The Pros. The Cons.

[00:00:04] Adam Pierno: Okay, welcome back to another episode of Food and Restaurant marketing. We’re so excited to be back. Let me tell you why. We’re doing something real fun and a little different than what we have done in the past. We have done an editorial food guest on mobile apps. We’ve had some brands that we’ve been talking to that told us “Hey we needed this. This is something we needed or this is something we want.” We’ve started digging in and giving them recommendations on whether that’s a good idea or a bad idea, guess what? It all depends right?


[00:00:40] Daniel Santy: It all depends.

[00:00:42] Adam: With me, as ever you just heard him is Dan Santy.

[00:00:46] Dan: Good morning, afternoon or evening.

[00:00:50] Adam: As you know, as time shifted so they listen when they goddamn want to. We don’t control that.

[00:00:56] Dan: That’s right.

[00:00:57] Adam: But they’re probably listening on a mobile device, in all likelihood. That’s the topic of the day. We’ve written a couple of posts on One in the positive, the affirmative argument. The pros of having a mobile app and when you should want to do that. Then one, the argument against. When is it the wrong time to do or why wouldn’t you need to do it? That’s what we kind of want to talk about today. That’s what Dan and I’ve been kicking around here for a while. We’re excited to debate it and duke it out today and talk through it.

[00:01:35] Dan: In spirit of full disclosure, Mr. Pierno is the author of both of those articles. I’d like to take a little bit of credit for having drafted some of that content, but Mr. Pierno did, based on conversations we’ve had. The debate’s been lively because we’re talking to a lot of our consulting clients and they’re asking this question. This is truly the question. Clearly everything’s moving to mobile. Not moving, is mobile. What’s happening right now Adam, website traffic on many of our clients’ sites 70, 80% mobile.

[00:02:16] Adam: Yes. It’s interesting. Back in 2010, we started to notice a trend of increased mobile access. If you’re looking at the sources, if you look at the devices coming to the sites, or the m. version of the site that were being accessed. We started to notice, it’s 10% then the next year it’s 20%. What we started to realize was at that time in 2011, we saw year over year a 10% increase in visits or a percentage of visits were from a mobile device. Now, even on transactional behavior, it’s 70-80%.

Everybody’s using their mobile. That’s a little deceptive because you think mobile and I’m holding my iPhone but it could be a tablet. Technically, the way analytics and most analytics platforms work is those things are counted as a mobile device and they’re not a desktop which is now a laptop. They are mobile devices. They receive the web differently, people have a different set of attention when they use those. People’s expectations depending on a device are so different.

If I come on a laptop, I want one set of things and I expect a certain set of options. If I come on my phone, I’d probably, most likely I’m at the office or I’m in a car, or I’m somewhere on the go and I need a quick answer. If I’m on a tablet, I’m looking for some other intermediary set of options. Do you agree?

[00:03:48] Dan: 100%, it’s so funny because my wife constantly says to me, “How can you read your email?” How can you do whatever it is I’m doing. I read the New York times on that. I go to my email. Obviously a whole host of things. It’s so second nature today. It’s second nature and the convenience of it is ridiculous. If my laptop is in my briefcase, in my bedroom. I’m out in the kitchen having a cup of coffee, I’m like I’m on my old device-

[00:04:26] Adam: You’re not a tablet guy?

[00:04:28] Dan: No, I was early on. I had an iPad. That actually had cascaded to my wife and she still has that device today and still uses it.

[00:04:38] Adam: Yes. My wife uses one too. I’m either at laptop or phone.

[00:04:42] Dan: But you know what’s interesting about the word mobile today is if you watch what happens in the office, people are mobile with their laptops because of WiFi. I watch three, four, five, six seven, well, 30 people wander around because they’re going to meetings in small conference rooms, large conference rooms, wherever they’re going to work with somebody in a different-

[00:05:09] Adam: The laptop is open while they’re walking, they’re pretty much typing or doing a Hangout while they’re walking.

[00:05:15] Dan: It’s crazy. It’s absolutely crazy. Mobile is here. Unless you’re on a — please don’t be offended, a PC. You can’t do-

[00:05:27] Adam: We have a couple of PCs out there right outside my door, there’s a couple of people on PCs. We have been testing a lot of software for brands. The whole Mac or PC thing is, a lot of that’s been resolved by web-based software. They’re so a little con-care and a little more prone to getting viruses but otherwise, it’s caught up. It’s pretty even.

[00:05:53] Dan: I’m not going to hate on that. I’m not going to do it.

[00:05:55] Adam: You make a fantastic point. No matter what device you’re accessing from, you are mobile now. Everything is mobile now. Now the onus is on the brand. Hypothetically, let’s just make up a brand for this. Maybe we’ll use it for the whole episode or maybe we’ll just use it for this part of the conversation–

[00:06:14] Dan: Suzy Wednesday? Should we call it Suzy Wednesday?

[00:06:16] Adam: Suzy Wednesday, that’s a great example. Let’s say I have with that, in that case, 250 locations, let’s call them super regional just for the point of argument. Everybody who wants to see more about Suzy Wednesday, my brand, has a mobile state of mind. Even if I’m at my best, and let’s say I have a real desktop computer, I still want to know quickly, menu. I want an HTML menu. I don’t want a PDF.

[00:06:46] Dan: Location.

[00:06:48] Adam: Location number one. How far is it from here? Can I click an order? I want everything. I want access to it. I want to be able to do it. I want it on my terms. Now, that sounds great if you’re listening to this on your mobile device you’re saying “Well, I just downloaded this podcast and that’s how I expect it to be, great.” If you are the marketing or the technology officer at Suzy Wednesdays, you have a mess in your pants because you’re figuring out “How am I going to deliver that experience across devices?”

There’s a lot of great things about mobile apps but from a brand perspective, it’s an unholy nightmare. It’s got a tie in with your POS. It’s got a tie in with your traffic patterns. When you unleash that thing on the world, you actually have no idea. The walk-in traffic experience for a brand where we talked to of the store where they will tell us.

Well at this time of day, this time of year, this is what I expect. 220 tickets that day. They know it very well. Unleash the mobile app, it throws everything out of whack. Who the hell knows who’s going to come in at that point through the app.

[00:08:00] Dan: Well, if you go all the way back to what you were just talking about at the beginning, that is tying into the POS.

[00:08:11] Adam: It’s critical. What we’ve seen, in the complexity because there’s so many vendors involved in that environment. You and I as a consumer, or any general consumer out there, we pull something up on our app. If it’s not seamless into the POS, it gets crazy and then we lose the analytics, we’re spending tens of thousands of dollars trying to figure it out with a variety of different vendors because there’s so many different vendors out there providing the service.

How many of our clients have had these fits and starts? This looks like the perfect solution. When you try to do the connection, the connection is janky or can’t be done, it’s going to cost whatever to make it get that.

[00:09:07] Adam: Yes. This day, we were talking about a brand that had invested with a software service. They had the SAS. They were a pilot. They were in on the ground floors. Great value on that. Software service came and said, “You know what? We’ve looked at it in our business model. We don’t like it. We’re pulling out of this. We’re going to close this business. We’re not going to support this anymore.” Holy Moly, that just threw their plan, their five year plan just gone to garbage.

[00:09:35] Dan: By the way, you know that SAS was talking about bailing from that for months.

[00:09:45] Adam: That’s a different thing.

[00:09:47] Dan: They had a huge opportunity to say, “Hey, we’re starting to question this.” Of course, don’t worry about revenue. I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole. Everybody gets that.

[00:10:01] Adam: [crosstalk]

[00:10:02] Dan: Go ahead.

[00:10:02] Adam: No, you go ahead.

[00:10:04] Dan: Clearly, the online ordering functionality is really taking off.

[00:10:11] Adam: And people love it. They’ve been trained in it. They’re used to it. It’s easier than talking to somebody, you could get your order wrong.

[00:10:20] Dan: Or texting we don’t– fundamentally, we don’t want to talk to anybody. Especially– no slams to the workers but if I can use an online ordering function tool or whatever it is and not have to talk to the 18-year old minimum wage worker at the fast-casual, I’m in. I’m totally in.

[00:10:45] Adam: I’m going to give you one better. Flip it to that person’s side, okay? I’m with you and I have the tendency to say like “That person is messing it up.” Or, “How many times have I gotten home and realize that they’ve forgot XYZ.” but flip it from your side or from an operator’s side, it’s loud in Taco Bell. It’s loud in the pizza place. That poor person who uses that GD phone is– they can’t hear you and they’re trying their best and there’s someone staying at the underway for money out and the guy behind them is saying, “Coming through, hot, hot, hot.”

[00:11:20] Dan: Good point. You know what? You’re so empathetic. I’m a little surprised.

[00:11:25] Adam: Empathy is my specialty. If you’re listening to this, you should know. I have no empathy.

[00:11:30] Dan: I just want everybody to know that you just witnessed an amazing empathetic moment.

[00:11:38] Adam: [laughs] [crosstalk] No, I have worked in the restaurant industry. I have been a server and a bus boy and I’ve made pizzas and I’ve worked on that side of the counter so I know. It’s not easy to get it right 100% of the time and they get it right more than we think because we as customers we tend to focus on the negatives but the online order is a huge, absolutely huge thing.

[00:12:02] Dan: Huge. On the flip side, really important point about online ordering in my opinion is– and this is what emerging brands and evolving brands need to understand. Domino’s has created an environment that has set a standard that all other brands will now be held to. That is a critical thing. We do all these conversation of, should we, shouldn’t we and let’s say we are on the should path so the brand decides, we’re going down that path with them and you’d better hold yourself up to that standard.

And that’s where it becomes really complicated because Domino’s went all in on technology and is not letting up. That’s a big deal that people need to understand.

[00:13:05] Adam: It’s funny that you said that, you jumped ahead a little bit–

[00:13:10] Dan: I’m sorry.

[00:13:11] Adam: No, don’t apologize. I love it, let’s just talk, the outline is our guide. We own this outline. You use the word technology when it comes to Domino’s but I think the word is innovation. Earlier today, day and night ate at the restaurant and it actually had the word innovation on the menu which appalled us both. I mean in a description of a meal but–

[00:13:36] Dan: The salad–

[00:13:38] Adam: [sigh] It was not innovative but Domino’s app is legitimately time after time after time after time innovative, legitimately. And so if– you’re dead on, yes, it’s such a good point. If you are– what if you call it, Suzy Wednesdays?

[00:13:55] Dan: [laughs] Suzy Wednesdays.

[00:13:56] Adam: And you want to make an app and you want to go with Relevant Media’s white label product, it’s a great product. [unintelligible 00:14:05] does a great job of keeping something off the shelf. It doesn’t compete with Domino’s and you’re right customers, this is what we deal with grants and when we do research into consumer groups. They don’t give a tear about what category you are in and how much you spend and how many units you have. They say, “Well, Domino’s crushes it.” Chick-fil-A, absolutely has a sick app and I get a reward every other time I go with Whatsapp.

Starbucks I can order in my car, in my garage and it’s ready for me when I get there. The expectations have been set and now, your app is not just your app, is the entire experience because that’s what’s been trained into them.

[00:14:49] Dan: Adam, I think we’re on to a very interesting phenomenon that I don’t hear talked about enough in the strategic sessions we’re having with our clients. And that is, it’s not, should we, shouldn’t we. Are we prepared to make the investment to be at a level that customer will go, “You know what? Hey, this is really amazing, what this brand has done.”? Because it’s an evolving brand or it’s a– maybe it’s even a Suzy Wednesday that’s you’ve been suffering but they’re trying to catch up.

You can’t cheap out on this. There’s no short cut. There’s no way to fake– you can’t fake this.

[00:15:44] Adam: No. And especially with the– you’ve just sprung so many ideas in my mind but number one, with– I hate to say the M word but millennials and the younger generations coming up, digital natives whatever you call them. I’m a gen-X’er and I consider myself a digital native. Listen, my expectation is flawless execution. If you’re at Suzy Wednesdays and you’ve got– what did I say, 250 locations, I don’t care. If you give me the chance to use an app and it sucks, you suck.

[00:16:16] Dan: Well, because by the way, your dad or your mom or your mom and dad might say, “Adam, let’s go to Suzy Wednesday.” Because they like going there. You’re immediately going on to check these guys out and you’re like, “Wah, wah, this is disappointing.” And probably saying, “Hey, mom and dad? How about– ?” And now you’re redirecting.

[00:16:42] Adam: And we go to Domino’s.


[00:16:49] Adam: No offense, I do like Domino’s, I had nothing against it since they did the reformulation, 10 years ago, good stuff. One thing that apps are amazing at, this is something I’ve noticed as a consumer; the commit spend, I call it. Starbucks, pioneered this. Chick-fil-A does this as well. Look, every app wants me to put my credit card in and get ready to spend with them like through Apple pay or through their own spend, that’s great. It is smart business.

Well, those two brands do better. They want you to make a transaction right there. Put 20 bucks into your account, they don’t want your credit card, they actually want cash paid in. Now, as a consumer– so for Starbucks, I have to put $20 to use the app and then guess what, I’m going to spend it because it’s already committed, I’ve already paid it.

So they’ve got me for those and now it’s up to them to figure out how fast I use it. It’s like a slot machine.

[00:17:46] Dan: Can I tell you something? I hate that whole concept.

[00:17:50] Adam: I downloaded the Chick-fil-A as preparation for this conversation, which– Chick fil A, I love. I downloaded CFA one or whatever it’s called, got halfway into it’s– realized that’s what it was and deleted it. Don’t make me commit my GD money, man. I want to buy $10 dollars at the time. I don’t want to give you $50 now and be on a subscription.

[00:18:11] Dan: Make it an option or make it an opt-out like a 401k, everyone’s opted in unless you tell me you want out.

[00:18:20] Adam: There’s a check box where you say, I don’t prefer this.

[00:18:22] Dan: I don’t want this, yes. [crosstalk]

[00:18:24] Adam: I get the brand side of it. There’s a few brands that have it cached or even request it. And maybe Chick-fil-A is at that level, their loyalty, their traffic. I do love that brand. We go there enough for crying out loud but I don’t want to pay in so I have to think about some of the brands that actually have the gravitas or an app. That’s spin gravitation where I know it’s going to happen. McDonald’s is probably one but they wouldn’t have the sense to do it because they want to keep those small tickets moving. They don’t want people thinking about that.

[00:19:03] Dan: Yes, it’s interesting. Starbucks clearly has that permission because the vast– no, I don’t want to say vast majority but a significant number, their customers obviously are going there three times a week, seven days or whatever, it doesn’t matter, their frequency is sick.

[00:19:21] Adam: And in your mind as a consumer in that, they think “Okay, three bucks, four bucks a top. I’ll put in 50 bucks and that’ll get me through this quarter.” and meanwhile they spend it in three weeks. We’ve talked before on this podcast about how addictive that app is.

The next benefit, I think is loyalty. We’re big believers in one thing; an app is not going to solve your marketing problem. It’s not going to drive traffic. If you just open today and you start an app, the app is not going to drive traffic and fill your store, okay? So stop it, if you’re a new brand or an emerging brand. If you have some traffic, what the app can do is build loyalty, build some extra occasions, and adds a point of view that is grounded in. Data, I mean it’s grounded in facts. A lot of brands come in and say “Hey, we want this because Chik-fil-A and Chipotle and Starbucks have one.” Yes those are great case studies but flawed because your brand is not those brands and I’m not sure everybody who’s listening to this but I’m 99% sure I can say with confidence that your brand is not those brands or up to those brand’s standards. That’s not a knock on your brand. You’re just not Starbucks.

[00:20:45] Dan: This falls under the category of, you know, let’s just be brutally honest; be brutally honest. Don’t be delusional about how loyal people are to you. Do not be delusional that you are a Starbucks or an emerging Starbucks. I mean, you’re somewhere in your life cycle. Be honest where you are in your life cycle and build your online environment based on that.

[00:21:18] Adam: That’s it.

[00:21:19] Dan: That’s it.

[00:21:20] Adam: Know your customer.

[00:21:21] Dan: Yes.

[00:21:22] Adam: And know how much your customer loves you. Know what the gravitational pull had became your brand as a star and people coming in. Yes, they come in once every three months? Not enough.

[00:21:33] Dan: Right.

[00:21:34] Adam: I don’t need your app and what we’ve found time and time again, the app is not a cure-all for the traffic world or your frequency was. If you have traffic, the app is an accelerant to loyalty.

[00:21:46] Dan: No research we ever done has said “I make a decision to eat at an establishment based on whether they have an app or not.”

[00:21:57] Adam: Right. That what’s worst that we do have data that says “I’ve open a terrible app and therefore I don’t go.”

[00:22:05] Dan: Boom.

[00:22:07] Adam: Right?

[00:22:08] Dan: Right? So go down chase– go down that rabbit hole and find yourself and find yourself actually suffering from your investment decision.

[00:22:17] Adam: Right. Don’t do it wrong. Do it right.

[00:22:20] Dan: Wait.

[00:22:21] Adam: Uh oh.

[00:22:22] Dan: Wait.

[00:22:23] Adam: Oh oh. This is serious.

[00:22:25] Dan: We should not. You should not.

[00:22:31] Adam: What should not?

[00:22:32] Dan: Build an app. Stop, stop and we could end the podcast–

[00:22:39] Adam: Oh I know, I know exactly where you are going.

[00:22:42] Dan: Adam found this unbelievable stat that I’m probably not gonna do justice–

[00:22:47] Adam: No, go ahead. I have a link that will be in the show notes. It’s in the article.

[00:22:52] Dan: This fact. This empirical fact not my opinion–

[00:22:58] Adam: It’s true for the second year in row. I know what you’re saying and I have data that shows ’15 and ’16 history.

[00:23:02] Dan: People are downloading apps.

[00:23:05] Adam: Yes. Now it’s comScore, in your mobile app research, found. There’s a segment of people who claimed to have downloaded zero apps per month. Zero. Okay.

[00:23:19] Dan: I’m sorry, what was the number?

[00:23:21] Adam: It was zero and by the way that is over 50% of the respondents of their survey. It’s not a small sliver anymore. So they found a significant amount in 2015 version. I do this every year, this mobile app study. In ’16, the ’16 study was released in September, duplicated and higher number. I am a living proof of this data. I think you’re a living proof to this. The only apps I download are new calendars which I download and delete like a crazy person because they’re not good enough and games. I download game here and there and I’m legitimately down to twelve apps on my phone.

[00:24:01] Dan: Well, my friend. I think this is an important fact. I don’t think a lot of people know this. I’m not as young as you think.

[00:24:09] Adam: [laugh] You sound youthful.

[00:24:12] Dan: I do, I do. I do that well. I thank that youthfulness well.

[00:24:16] Adam: No crow’s feet.

[00:24:18] Dan: Yes, oh God bless you and obviously we’re not in the same room.


[00:24:24] Dan: But I don’t download apps that I never have and I probably never will because they know annoy me and I want a pristine mobile responsive experience. That’s what I want. That’s all I want. I don’t, you know what, if you have an app, God bless you, there’s a pop– there’s a population that wants them, maybe. But there’s a population of relatively well-to-do people with discretionary income that need a either QSR, the fast casual, and casual dining and fine dining and everything in between depending on circumstance that just wants a beautiful responsive experience. So if you’re gonna spend money, start the responsive experience.

[00:25:20] Adam: That’s actually not a friendly request. That is a mandatory. The mobile app, the mobile web is your friend. The mobile web has come a long way. Standards for the mobile web have evolved and they are awesome. There are some limitations as a brand, what you get from a user from the mobile web so there’s no loyalty number that can put in. It’s hard to cookie and it’s hard to track people, behavior, time but honestly, for most people that are experimenting at finding their brand thru google maps or thru proximity marketing, that’s the golden goose. They’re not going to download an app to try you for the first time but they will go to the mobile website and scroll it and thumb it once or twice, you know, see what’s happening. You might not collect all the data but if you’re on the fence, if you’re in pre-app world, I cannot stress strongly now. You may optimize your mobile site first and use it as a proof of concept for your app and figure out what works and what doesn’t.

[00:26:25] Dan: And by the way Adam, as you know I have a, praise God, a soon to be 22-year old son who’s going to be graduating in college in 8 weeks.

[00:26:37] Adam: [laugh] Only five more years of bills, I’m sure.

[00:26:39] Dan: [laugh] Or so, I’ve been told. But he might have the conversation about app downloads and you know, this is a kid who eats out a lot. He’s a college student. They cook at home for experiences with their mates and stuff like that but fundamentally, they’re out eating in typically QSR fast casual and so forth and you know, he doesn’t even have an app at his university. He does not use the app that his university provides.

[00:27:15] Adam: What, like the food court? Like the dining service?

[00:27:18] Dan: Yes. He just, he’s got his account, well, my account-

[00:27:22] Adam: Yes, right. [laugh]

[00:27:23] Dan: -connected to his box. They’re called something box and he presses the button because–

[00:27:32] Adam: – the manual card swipe.

[00:27:33] Dan: Yes. It’s over. I mean, he puts 20 bucks there and I think part of that out of respect to me, he doesn’t want put my abuse of the situation but at the same time my point simply is that, you’ve got the 50 something and the 20 something happens– from a similar behavior so I think, and this will be a whole another– this goes to our life stages theory that “You know what? Where are we in our life? What do we do and what are our habits?

[00:28:06] Adam: No, and if you’d read the book Hooked, there’s a gamification aspect to it. That there’s the Starbucks model where, there’s a gamification thing makes me want to use that app and makes me want to spend that money and then, it doesn’t make me want to do that. That McDonalds app, I don’t know, I don’t get any pleasure out of using the app versus payment with a credit card. I’ll just pay with the card. It’s taking up data.

[00:28:36] Dan: One of the thing I think that’s starting to really creep in all of this, you know I haven’t even talked about this much something I’ve been thinking lot though is, security. We haven’t talked about security in a long time and I got to be honest with you. I think security is going to probably be a huge impediment going forward and the whole app world or just even how we interact on the web with our devices.

[00:29:10] Adam: I think you’re right. I think we’re going to see a– I’m so bummed out by this, I think we’re going to see an avalanche.

[00:29:20] Dan: I’m sorry. [laugh]

[00:29:21] Adam: No. You hit me bad.

[00:29:23] Dan: They’ve been downer Dan.

[00:29:26] Adam: It’s funny. Independently, people have been having the same conversation in mind. I think what’s happening in the world, we are going to see an avalanche of ID thefts and data breaches in the whole– Oh, all my Starbucks points are gone and Uber’s. My Uber accounts been used in Moscow’s 60 times before I wake up. I think that’s going to happen if people are going to retreat from apps. Security–

[00:29:53] Dan: We’re on the southern, let’s go. Let’s retreat back to analog right now and we’ll be on the cutting edge.

[00:29:59] Adam: No, I’m gong to pay in Wampa.

[00:30:00] Dan: In what?

[00:30:00] Adam: In Wampa. I think the last thing– we’re at 30 minutes now which is longer than usual and honestly-

[00:30:09] Dan: I apologize.

[00:30:10] Adam: No, this is such a good topic, we could talk about this all day but for me the most important thing for brands to understand and brands really do not always understand this. If you and because I want to be sensitive to what it’s like to be inside a brand which we know. From the marketing side, you have a eight LTOs a year, 20 LTOs a year, whatever they are and you struggle to figure how we’re going to market each of those LTOs. From a technology standpoint you say, “Okay now there’s the period 14 LTOs got to make it. I have to change over all the technology requirements. Everything that has to happen in order to get a POS system and website and everything that works up and down and we’re going to get that all works right, have you witnessed this before?

[00:30:59] Dan: Always.

[00:31:00] Adam: Okay. Well, rolling out an app is twice that because maybe more, when you create an app, you are creating a product that is almost as big as your brand. If you’re not prepared to market the hell out of that thing, you almost like your brand. I’m comparing it to an LTO which should give those brands shivers compared to your brand. It’s that important. If you’re not prepared to roll out a marketing strategy, how are you going to get that app out there, awareness of the app, you’re going to need the awareness of that app up, like 80% of the awareness of your brand. You have to get people downloading. You have to have to have a cross preacquisition. All of with this something in food marketing, restaurant marketing. This is serious stuff. You are now competing with Uber. You’re competing with Netflix. This is ditch a sword.

[00:31:56] Dan: That is if you take anything away from this conversation today, it’s what Adam is talking about. We sit around the clients all the time and we here these conversations, “We need a nap or we don’t want an app.” whatever the case may be but regardless the ecosystem around what you do is as important as that strategic decision you make of should or shouldn’t, regardless. If you decide not to, you still have a marketing and maintenance obligation. If you decide you have a whole another responsibility to understand how to make that effective because it comes down to our life. Spend the time, that’s our point. That’s what we try to preach to the wonderful people who choose to work with us but stay focused. It’s not about should or shouldn’t. It’s about if we do, what are the implications? If we don’t, what are the implications? And march through all that and then if you go in regardless should or shouldn’t, go all in. Don’t question your decision, don’t start backtracking, blaming and checking just go all in and be that thing.

[00:33:30] Adam: Yes, let’s wrap it up with that idea that, listen everybody is going to have a mobile app at some point. We’ve laid out some challenges. To be honest with you, we have an outline that’s twice as long as what we’ve covered, maybe we’ll do sequel through this episode in coming weeks. You’re going to do it, right? Every brand is going to have one. Everybody brand needs one. People are expecting it. People are looking for an app but what we’re saying is, go in with your eyes open. Look realistically, everybody wants to say Domino’s, Chick-fila, Starbucks, Kununurra, right? Those are the good case studies but then when it comes to time to make their app, they look at the garbage that’s in our categories instead of comparing themselves to that.

[00:34:18] Dan: Bingo.

[00:34:19] Adam: You’re in competition with Amazon at that point. You’re in competition with Apple. When you have an app that has an icon on my home-screen, when I thumb that thing, it better be worth my time as a consumer when I open it. That’s not me, that’s the entitled consumer that honestly it’s spoiled by friction with timers and ones everything need to be flawless if that’s perfect.

[00:34:45] Dan: Yes. Listen good luck, be assertive. Make a decision, live with it, move forward. Thanks for listening. We really appreciate all the comments everybody’s been sharing. Share some more and challenges as Adam always likes to say, don’t hesitate to tell us how handsome we are, we like that too-

[00:35:07] Adam: We’re gorgeous.

[00:35:10] Dan: -and eat well.

[00:35:11] Adam: Thanks guys.

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Read these companion articles, too: The Pros. The Cons.

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