How QSR Brands Can Remain Competitive With Relationship Marketing   

Young African American businessman laughing while sitting with colleagues in an office after work eating pizza and drinking a beer
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine



Competition in APAC’s quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry is heating up. According to Technavio, the region’s food-service market is poised to grow to roughly $460 billion by 2025.

And the increasing number of food-service chains entering the market is a key driver of this explosive growth. 

The pandemic has accelerated the shift towards a more digital world. And for those slow to keep up with the evolution, it will be difficult — if not downright impossible — to reach the right customers and remain profitable.  

According to McKinsey Global Institute, data-driven organisations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times as likely to retain customers and 19 times as likely to be profitable as a result. To stand out in the saturated QSR space, it’s imperative to embrace digital transformation to power relationship marketing or risk becoming antiquated. 

Serve up better experiences with unified data. 

A single source of truth, or unified data, is the foundation of any digital ecosystem. It combines meaningful, reliable data from multiple systems into a single view that’s more accurate, more complete and truer than the data from any single source alone.  

Delivering truly engaging experiences, not just from the kitchen, requires access to all forms of data.

With the impending deprecation of the third-party cookie, it’s never been a better time to focus on first- and zero-party data collection. This data, which is willingly provided, can be seamlessly integrated into a CDP to provide a complete, unified 360-degree view of customers, identifying and matching them with their dining behaviours.  

Achieve competitive advantage with next-gen loyalty

 Loyalty is about more than undercutting the competition next door or giving away a free order of hot chips on the customer’s tenth visit. Modern diners expect comprehensive loyalty programs that go beyond generic ‘points-win-prizes’ incentives and discounts.

The core of loyalty is not merely the cheapest price point; it’s a restaurant brand that can foster community, recognise the customer as an individual and deliver content and bespoke deals that reflect this.  

In fact, Cheetah Digital’s 2022 Consumer Trends Index showed a 110% lift in people wanting to be treated as an individual.

Even more, over 50% of customers say they are comfortable sharing their data with a restaurant brand in exchange for better digital service. Yet, many in the restaurant space still invest far more resources in acquisition strategies than retention. For restaurant marketers, there should be no greater achievement than locking in a loyal customer — one who not only has an affinity for its menu and brand promises but will also pay a little bit extra or travel a little bit further, if required. 

 Cheetah Digital’s Consumer Trends Index also revealed that 63% are prepared to pay more to purchase from a trusted restaurant brand. However, it’s to be noted that consumers are loyal by nature but also opportunists. So it’s wise not to take them for granted. Restaurant brands should leave nothing on the table and develop a loyalty strategy that keeps customers thinking about them first in the moments that matter, especially when hunger strikes. 

Connecting at the right time 

There are numerous touch points in which QSRs should be connecting with their customers. However, email is a big one. According to Cheetah Digital’s 2022 Consumer Trends Index, when it comes to driving sales, email beats paid social and display advertising by up to 228% in Australia — 120% higher than consumers globally. 

 At the same time, in today’s digital and interconnected world, the importance of tailoring relationship marketing efforts to be mobile-first rather than merely mobile-responsive can’t be overrated either.

To put into context, a staggering eight out of every 10 digital minutes reside on a smartphone. It’s clear that a fully-fledged mobile strategy is no longer a ‘nice to have’ for restaurant chains but a cornerstone of its digital strategy.  

Customers interact with an average of six digital touchpoints when engaging with a restaurant. These include social media, payment through wallet, and offers from SMS or email, to name a few. Importantly, however, all of these touchpoints can be directly accessed through mobile. And the upside to this is that restaurant brands can gather vast amounts of customer data, opt-ins, preference insights and behavioural data to no longer infer but anticipate what a customer is likely to do next.  

As people’s behaviours have modified during the pandemic, and more time has been spent on additional screens, and different channels, powering cross-channel messaging from unified data empowers a restaurant marketer to more closely align with customer expectations, improve the relevancy of messaging and make that all-important connection on the right channel at the right time.  

Connecting email, SMS and the like to a data platform allows QSRs to drive engagement with customers through data-driven messaging. They can define customer audiences, using the most up-to-date customer profile and run queries on large data sets. Then they can apply analytics in real-time, such as content and menu recommendations, as well as send at the optimal time, trigger campaigns based on online behavioural data or other real-time events.  

Additionally, with a data platform, QSRs can go beyond static lists or antiquated relational databases. They can rely on other unique identifiers beyond email like a phone number or social media profile, for example. This helps restaurant brands tie together many different attributes, providing a clearer view of customers and optimising their experiences.  

Satisfying customers’ hunger for better personalisation, privacy and fun

Build loyalty amid the ‘privacy paradox’ 

Upon the impending deprecation of third-party cookies and with increasing privacy legislation sweeping the globe, consumers are increasingly cognizant of the value of their data. They want more personalisation but also demand greater transparency and control over their data. It’s a term now coined the ‘privacy paradox’. 

Where privacy was once an afterthought of many brands’ go-to-market strategy, it is fast becoming as vital a differentiator as price, product and customer experience. For proactive brands, rooted in permission-based marketing and a fully-fledged privacy-first strategy, this is an opportunity to enlist relationship marketing to forge more honest, meaningful connections with consumers. 

Bakers Delight is one APAC brand taking advantage of the opportunity. The franchised bakery chain turned to Cheetah Digital, one of CM Group’s world-class martech solutions, to implement an omnichannel rewards program to reward its loyal customers, and the results were nothing short of phenomenal.  

 The ‘Dough Getters’ loyalty program was rolled out across Australia and New Zealand in more than 500 Bakers Delight bakeries. In one month, the program gained more than 200,000 sign-ups, putting the chain 30% ahead of target. Even more, members were spending an average of 25% more per transaction.  

For Bakers Delight, partnering with Cheetah Digital enabled them to transition to a strategy that emphasised a delightful customer experience, customer loyalty and insights, which further enabled them to engage customers throughout their lifecycle. 

“After thoroughly evaluating the market, it was clear that Cheetah Digital was the only partner that could deliver an all-in-one solution to support us in achieving our business objectives and deliver a seamless customer experience,” says Kristy Elsworth, Loyalty, CRM & Digital Marketing Manager at Bakers Delight.  

“From developing a deeper understanding of our customers to driving brand loyalty, we know Cheetah Digital has the capabilities to support us in both the short- and long-term. The data security and reduced latency that Cheetah Digital offered us with their market first Engagement Data Platform that resides in Australia was a defining factor in our decision-making.” 

Food for thought

Relationship Marketing begins with the first interaction, where you meet the person by offering a rewarding experience. From there, you can transform the ‘unknown customer’ into the ‘known’, engage with their personal wants in real-time and accompany them into the valuable and mutually beneficial life of a loyal customer. 

Find out more in Cheetah Digital’s Restaurant Revolution: Serving Up Better Customer Engagement guide here. 

Sara Coghlan, Senior Marketing Manager, APAC, Cheetah Digital, was this piece’s author

Coghlan is a passionate marketer with more than a decade of experience in the B2B SaaS space. With a comprehensive understanding of the Asia Pacific market, Sara is laser-focused on customer experience and thrives on driving results. 

About CM Group 

CM Group offers a suite of world-class martech solutions that help marketers create and foster  relationships with consumers across the entire customer lifecycle.

CM Group now includes Campaign Monitor, Emma, Vuture, Liveclicker, Sailthru, Selligent and Cheetah Digital. By joining together these leading solutions, CM Group offers a variety of relationship marketing use cases that can be used by marketers at any level.

Headquartered in Nashville, TN, CM Group has offices globally across the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South America and Central America, as well as in Japan. 




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