fast food advertising budget

Fast food advertising budgets: How your QSR brand can compete for less

Fast food is one of the most highly advertised consumer-facing markets in the world. Recent figures indicate that $4.6 billion is spent on fast food advertising annually in the US alone. The reasons behind why this segment advertises so heavily are high competition coupled with a limited window of opportunity. Consumers make fast food decisions in the moments right before they buy, which means that all the advertising in the world isn’t going to reach them if it’s done at the wrong time. A fast food advertising budget, then, can be stretched when you focus not on the quantity of your advertisements, but on the timing instead.

advertising budget fast food restaurantWhile the high degree of competition is a challenge for quick service restaurants (QSRs), they also have a unique opportunity: they can leverage mobile technology to easily target their consumers when they’re most likely to stop at a fast food franchise. This is something accomplished through mobile moments, as smartphones that travel with consumers are the best way to reach out to them while they are on-the-go. Instead of sinking a high percentage of your precious advertising dollars into a widespread, scattershot campaign, you can instead market smarter by traveling with the consumer.

Use Your Fast Food Advertising Budget to Focus on Mobile

App-based advertising is capable of reaching consumers as they’re near a QSR location or looking for a place to eat. This can be a better alternative to social media for many fast food companies as this form of advertising reaches consumers when they’re in a buying state of mind.

Domino’s is a brand that has fully embraced app-based advertising. In 2010, they became early adopters of the technology and began focusing heavily on mobile advertising via apps. By 2015, the brand saw a 19% increase in sales and reported more than half of their orders were made via mobile devices. For 25 consecutive quarters, the brand saw increases in sales. Domino’s did this by essentially going all in on digital with their fast food advertising budget. Specifically, the company:

  • Offered mobile orders, payments, and tracking: Consumers can use the mobile device for all stages of the ordering process, from beginning to end. There’s even an optional tracker that allows consumers to see when they can expect their food to be delivered.
  • Integrated its rewards system: Domino’s has fully integrated their QSR rewards program into their app, meaning users are automatically credited with points.
  • Personalized the experience: On the tracker, consumers can see the name of the person making their food, what time the driver left the store, and can even leave a message for the location.
  • Target upsell opportunities: When using the Domino’s app, several options will be suggested to the consumer prior to check-out based on their order history, such as desserts, drinks, or sides.

Domino’s essentially took a mobile-first approach to their advertising budget. It was a risky move, but it worked to their benefit. Of course, it was costly upfront, as developing a proprietary app for a QSR mobile advertising strategy can be quite expensive. For brands that are looking for a way to integrate mobile app marketing while limiting their initial costs, an alternative can be found in partnering with a third-party shopping app.

Budget Saving Advertising Alternatives to In-House App Development

When your fast food advertising budget is limited, an ideal way to take a mobile-first approach is to work with a third-party app that is well established. Shopping apps, specifically, are good tools to make the most of your advertising dollars while minimizing the direct cost to your budget.

When considering a third-party app partnership, look for apps that offer:

  • A high number of active users: One of the benefits of using a third-party app is that you don’t have to worry about driving adoption. The app should come with a built-in audience of active and engaged users within your target audience.
  • Proximity marketing: Proximity marketing allows you to communicate with a mobile user when they’re close to one of your locations. This strategy can determine signals of purchase intent and use them effectively, increasing the chance of reaching that consumer as they’re about to make a dining decision.
  • A rewards-based system: The best shopping apps won’t be dependent on offering deals or coupons to get consumers to buy your product. Instead, they’ll offer rewards, such as points for making a purchase. This incentivizes buyers without forcing you to discount your items.

Partnering with an established shopping app can allow you to take advantage of all of the benefits of mobile advertising without the high expense of developing an app in-house. This can be a good way to stretch your fast food advertising budget while increasing your ROI.

A high-performing mobile campaign can be a powerful converter for QSRs, especially when you consider how important it is to be able to travel with your consumers. Consumers make fast food decisions quickly, which means you must also be mobile in order to reach them at that pivotal moment.

Shopkick helps our partners leverage mobile technology to reach an engaged target audience. If you’re interested in learning how far your advertising budget can go when partnering with a third-party app, contact our team today to learn more.

Image courtesy Baramee

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Apu Battan

Head of User Growth

Apu Battan is the Head of User Growth at Shopkick.

Apu is first and foremost an analytics leader, with close to 15 years of experience in helping to make decisions through the objective lens of data. Apu has always been a strong advocate for Shopkick’s most valuable customer — the user. He is passionate about acquiring the right users for our business, delighting them with the best product experience, and growing them into loyal, high-value users in the long term. Prior to Shopkick, Apu served as an Analytics Leader at Intuit for close to six years, and at Netflix, Electronic Arts, and Microsoft before that. 

Apu holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science,  and a master’s degree in integrated manufacturing and systems engineering from North Carolina State University, Raleigh.