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A Growing Appetite for Data

Big restaurant chains are developing a healthy appetite for collecting customer data to gain competitive advantage in an increasingly cluttered marketplace. Mobile technology allows marketers to employ apps and digital reservation systems to track consumer behavior, preferences, and spending patterns. Indeed mobile orders now comprise 5% of the total and, at 2.8 billion, are increasing rapidly. That might not sound like much at first blush, but when you consider that e-commerce represents only 10% of total retail sales, that should put things into perspective.

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But most marketers concentrate on collecting data on loyal customers and repeat purchasers through loyalty programs that they deliver through apps which customers can download. Like most unimaginative loyalty programs, these allow customers to earn points which can be redeemed for free stuff. Best practices suggest that apps should be open to everyone, rather than just the more avid customers as Starbucks finally realized. The company's reach extended from 15 million relationships to 75 million. And loyalty programs, as we have suggested in previous posts, should be a bit more creative than merely offering points for purchases. 

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There should be no limit to the number of digital relationships that marketers might want to foster, especially when they consider the low cost of reaching these customer. These apps make it easy to track behavior and target promotions and other communications appropriately as well as provide a channel for customer feedback. Store locations can be connected so that what a customer orders at one location, it can be known at another. Marketers can use this technology to improve service, cross-sell and up-sell. Some even go so far as to anticipate needs and delight customers with a favorite cocktail or dessert. Indeed there is simply no limit to what marketers can do when a one-to-one relationship is established, and apps make it all happen.


Discussion: Do you have any restaurant apps? Do you like the idea of having a one-to-one relationship with the marketer? Why or why not? What kinds of benefits do you want from such a relationship?