FOOD

How to customize your fast food chain branding?

Around the world, the fast-food industry generates US$570 billion per year. What’s more, the industry is worth US$200 billion in the United States alone, going onto 223 billion by the end of 2020. Despite all the criticism in regards to health benefits, the number of fast-food restaurants only keeps growing. Fast-food chain giants such as Mcdonald’s spend up to $2 billion a year on ads. In addition, fast-food chains, such as Burger King, Subway, Starbucks and Pizza Hut, spend more on digital advertising than the entire healthcare industry. To obtain the desired sale numbers, digital marketing is essential in targeting online customers whose reviews affect your fast-food chain directly. So what can you do to make your fast-food chain prosper? Well take a look at a few digital marketing strategies that will drive your sales and put you ahead of everyone else:

1. Be relevant to the audience you want to reach

2. Advertise your chain with great photos 

3. Have a mobile on-the-go service

4. Create a secret menu

5. Use social media to your advantage

© Meero

1. Be relevant to the audience you want to reach

According to BrandBastion, 79.8 percent of positive comments were about creative ads of the chains rather than the menus. That just goes to show that your brand can stand out with a creative campaign that is appealing to many, and not rely on new menu items or promotions, developing customer loyalty along the way. Just take a look at Wendy’s- they stand out with their entertaining, and oftentimes ruthless, roasts of their competitors. Wendy’s usually tries to appeal to millennials, using popular pop culture references and incorporating relatable GIFs, memes and rap lyrics. 

© Wendy’s Twitter

The idea of the content is to be relatable to a specific audience, and not about coming up with the best jokes. A study at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising claims that emotional campaigns generate twice the amount of profit than the ads based on rational content, also significantly affecting brand evaluation. For example, make sure to check out Starbucks. Starbucks is great when it comes to being relevant to the season and occasion, whether it be a fall pumpkin spice lattes or a unicorn frappuccino, an audience can always feel deeply connected to one of their campaigns. Just their unicorn frappuccino launch alone gained over 180,000 Instagram posts in one week. 

© Starbucks

2. Advertise your food-chain with great photos 

Food styling is a necessity when it comes to successful food campaigns. Food stylists are able to make your dishes look perfect, encouraging people to buy into the photos. The customers online, can’t smell the food, so they need to be able to ‘taste’ the food with their eyes first. Sebastian Dubois-Didcock, Toronto-based food critic explained that it takes more than just a few hours and an entire team of professionals to make the food appear appetizing. He also explained how the products need to continue to stay fresh, and often times have to be replaced when the shoot goes over time. According to Grubhub, adding professionally taken photos guarantees to raise your sales by at least 30%.  

For fast-food chains, burgers are the hero-shots and the photos need to be perfect, exposing every single element of the burger. Everyone knows that food pictured in ads always looks different in real life. However, that never stops anyone from getting their first impression from the photo. Think of an example of a cookie box that has a glass of milk pictured on it. Even if the milk is clearly not included, it still creates an idea that buyers need milk and cookies when they think about comfort food. If you still don’t think that you need help from professionals when it comes to food photography, just check out a few of Martha Stewart’s Instagram pics, which will surely settle any of your doubts.

© Martha Stewart’s Instagram     

*One of the reasons why you need a professional to take your food photos   

*Please seek help

At Meero, we’re experts at providing you with high-quality photography. As the largest photography company in the world that raised over $230 million in funds, we pair your brand with the best-suited photographer near you. At Meero, we partner with 58,000 photographers in more than 100 countries. Whether you need professional and bespoke photos for your e-commerce, food, corporate or lifestyle needs, we can provide you with photography that suits your brand. Just take a look at how Meero helped efood scale throughout Greece here

While a 60-minute shoot takes a photographer on average four hours of post-production work, Meero’s AI is able to complete the same work in seconds. 

Thanks to its adaptable and scalable solutions, at Meero, we can provide photography that reflects the identity of your brand, while delivering the final product in less than 24 hours.  We can make sure consumers are not only inspired by the images but also feel relatable to the experiences portrayed in the photos. 

© Meero

3. Have a mobile on-the-go services 

“Mobile devices are responsible for 71% of digital traffic in the US alone”

The industry’s use of mobile marketing has grown exponentially over the last decade. Statistics show that people check their smartphones on average at least 150 times per day. Some operators opted out for geo-location mobile marketing that uses GPS technology to spot smartphone users who are located nearby the restaurants. Aaron D. Allen, a consultant working at an Aaron Allen &Associates explains that you can never make it too easy to buy from you. 

For example, Domino’s Pizza Tracker smartphone app lets customers see the progress of their order, showing the steps of the preparation process and who’s making it. What’s more, the app has a feature where you can play a game against your friends in which you have to bake pizza while putting a timer on. The virtual pizza can be turned into a real order at the end. Another popular food chain, Subway, has an app that lets users find the nearest Subway, build their sandwich, share their choices for group orders and save orders for later. The app also is more convenient as customers can just select their customized order and pay directly through the app. Burger King’s Free Fries Friday campaign became widely successful as the app showed people the nearest restaurant location. The click-through-rate on this ad was 3.21%, compared to the average 0.33%, with consumers spending on average 23 seconds on the page. 

© Domino’s Pizza

© Mcdonalds Food App

Food chains should only continue to invest in mobile services, as customers will continue to rely more on portable devices due to their convenience.

4. Create a secret menu  

Secret menus are not that secret and are available to everyone. The secret menu items are not written on the regular menu, and usually, customers have to ask for it. Almost every big food chain, such as Mcdonalds, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Jamba Juice, KFC, Five Guys, has a secret menu. The fact that the secret menu is not really a secret doesn’t affect the success of the trend. By feeling like they’re special and in the know, customers are more likely to develop loyalty and this way the restaurant can build a cult following. 

Another reason why companies would rather have a secret menu instead of putting a new item on the regular menu is cost. To place a new food item on the menu is time-consuming and can be quite pricey due to all the potential marketing. A secret menu, on the other hand, can be easily altered and if one of the food items becomes in demand, it can be moved to the regular menu. This way, the company doesn’t spend a lot of money promoting it and can still introduce it to the masses after a low-cost trial and error test in the secret menu phase. 

Secret menus make customers feel like insiders and can add a sense of adventure when ordering at the popular food chain. The food chain needs to strike the right balance between hidden and accessible, every time asking consumers their opinions. Once everything goes well, you can start asking consumers to spread the word on social media, slowly introducing your ‘secret menu’ to the mass public. The idea is to not stray too far from your regular items, and just add a little twist to the well-beloved food menu. For example, the Baskin-Robbins secret menu contains ice cream flavors that are just combinations of already-existing ones. 

When it comes to promoting the secret menu, getting in contact with influencers on social media is key. Just take a look at Joey Graceffa, a popular YouTuber with 9 million subscribers. He filmed himself trying out Starbucks’ secret rainbow menu and got over 1.8 million views. Creating a secret menu can be really fun, and you can involve your employees, thus developing a sense of community. 

© Starbucks

5. Use social media to your advantage 

Fast food-chains doesn’t mean unhealthy brands that offer only deep-fried dishes and high-calorie meals.  Companies like Veggiegrill and Sweetgreen are healthy fast-food chains that serve salads and also fall into the category of restaurants that are considered ‘fast-food.’ However, regardless of the image and values, your brand is trying to portray, staying active on social media is essential and key in receiving great reactions online. Spreading the word on social media doesn’t mean immediate financial benefits. Instead, your brand will:

  • Raise brand awareness 

  • Improve Reputation 

  • Bring long-term benefits 

For example, restaurants like Nandos, known for its Portuguese peri-peri chicken, created a lot of buzz by regularly posting on their Twitter page. They try to stand out with hashtag competitions, such as #NandosSongs where fans reference their favorite songs. Mcdonalds, on the other hand, has over 29 million followers on Facebook alone and uses its social media to post about competitors, introduce new products and post photos of their customers. The photos would tend to focus on the quality of the food, showing suppliers hand-picking apples in the countryside.

© SweetGreen’s Instagram

It’s vital for food-chains to check on their social media. Negative reviews can influence revenue, so checking back on your clients through social media can not only avoid further financial loss but regulate any issues or discontent. 

09 Aug 2019 by Alexandra Nadareyshvili

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