There’s a reason why marketers have seen a 28 percent uptick in sales using digital signage. It’s no longer simply a bonus, but the consumer expectation. Especially among Gen Z’ers, whose mobile phones have practically become an extension of their bodies. So how do we speak to this younger generation? How do franchisees capitalize on advances that are emerging, connecting the inside of the dining room experience to developing digital technologies?
For one, it’s important to understand that the consumer journey begins before potential diners even cross the threshold. There are opportunities for impressions at every touchpoint along the way, and it kicks off the moment customers pull their car into the parking lot. We’re seeing more and more LED windows with motion video replacing the peeling adhesive window clings of yesteryear. Appearing as traditional TVs from the outside, transparent LED displays are see-through from within the restaurant and don’t inhibit views or hinder the dining experience. Equal parts engaging and interactive, instantly editable LED windows trump faded adhesive displays that often feature dated deals left up for months on end.
Inside, we’re seeing more and more opportunities for impressions. Diners are noticeably more engrossed in menu offerings than years prior. Kale and arugula are beginning to sprout up. Caloric and gluten free options speak to the broader, more engaged consumer. Folks are abundantly more cognizant about the food that they’re consuming and there’s a real desire for transparency. As such, digital menu boards now feature nutritional information and calorie counts. They also showcase limited time offers and seasonal specials (McRib, anyone?) Not to mention, they reduce perceived weight times.
In terms of placing orders, undoubtedly there’s still an abundance of antiquated menu boards spackled with tape to conceal expired menu items. The good news? We’re also seeing an uptick in self-serve iPad kiosks that enhance customization, expedite orders, and cut down on required man power. Due in part to greater customization, self-serve kiosks have been known to lift the average order total 20-30 percent. It’s a trend that we’ll continue to see moving forward.
When it comes to content, new and exciting dining room experiences are emerging. Restaurateurs have recognized the need to stream engaging, non-polarizing TV programming in dining rooms, which can be a vehicle for both brand narrative and savings over the cost of traditional television. Brands are increasingly using internet-driven “video on demand,” just like we have at home. Pre-set, pre-populated programming can both stream family-friendly consumer-facing content (sans competitor commercials) as well as serve up after-hours training videos and internal communication. In short, there’s a dual use for digital signage. Whether it’s showcasing commercial elements and brand messaging by day, or HR-led Employee of the Month videos after the doors have closed, it can be a game changer for diners as well as staff, circumventing traditional paper fliers and online training.
All in all, it’s an exciting time for quick-serves. The typical customer is infinitely more engaged than they were just 10 years ago. There’s huge buying power there. We’re faced with a generation of consumers who are hungry for something new and we have an entrée of opportunity at our fingertips, quite literally. Digital screens abound. Gone are traditional table tents and faded window clings. There’s a whole sampling of new and exciting visuals available to serve up. From outdoor LED windows with motion video to indoor digital menus and TV programming, emerging technology adds that extra sizzle. Quick-service restaurants now have the capacity to customize the dining environment to cater to ever-evolving consumer tastes and it’s imperative that restaurateurs put their best foot forward, both inside and out. Ultimately, brands had better get onboard with Gen Z’s insatiable appetite for digital marketing and programming, or risk getting burned by competitors.
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