In September of 2023, downloads of the top 36 quick-service restaurant (QSR) apps were up 10% compared to the prior year. QSR apps provide users with a convenient tool to place orders at their favorite restaurants. This includes browsing menus, customizing orders, and making payments seamlessly from mobile devices.
With the holiday season upon us, consumers are busier than ever and trying to budget wherever possible. More than 75% of consumers are on the hunt for deals this holiday, as part of their effort to counteract price increases. App marketers can take advantage of this busy time and employ various strategies to encourage users to download and consistently use quick service restaurant apps.
How to Retain QSR App Users Over the Holiday Season
The end of the year in the United States brings about several high spending holidays including Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Christmas. Over 30% of Americans expect to spend more on Thanksgiving food this year than they did in 2022 and 14% say they'll spend “much more.” Because of this peak in spending in November, consumers will be looking to save wherever they can, especially as they head into December for the holiday’s to follow.
QSR apps can alert customers to meal deals or let them earn free food for being a consistent and loyal customer. Below are a few examples of how app marketers can create the optimal user experience to retain these paying consumers through the 2023 holidays.
Offering Value in a High Spending Season
The likelihood of consumers downloading a restaurant's mobile app has significantly increased from 17% in 2022 to 24% in 2023. The driving force behind this increase in QSR app downloads is the value that is being offered within the app itself. Discounts and promotions on food items entice users to purchase, especially during high spending times that occur in the last few months of the year. More consumers have shown interest in exclusive in-app offers in 2023 compared to previous years.
In order for app marketers to gain loyal QSR app users, they must ensure their app provides real value to consumers. This might include mobile-exclusive deals, loyalty programs, order-ahead options, customization features, and convenient payment methods. In the competitive landscape of fast-casual dining, consumers are drawn to the prospect of immediate savings and tangible benefits. Offering discounts on menu items or exclusive promotions for app users creates a sense of value and incentivizes potential customers to download and engage with the app. These promotions not only serve as a compelling incentive for app adoption but also for long-term customer loyalty.
By continuously providing special deals, loyalty points, and time-sensitive promotions through the app, QSRs can keep users actively using the platform and encourage repeat business. Discounts and promotions not only attract cost-conscious consumers but also create a positive association with the brand, contributing to increased user acquisition and long-term customer retention.
Holiday Specific Promotions
‘Tis the season! Holiday-specific promotions can be highly effective for QSR apps by capitalizing on the festive spirit and consumer behaviors during special occasions. Tailoring promotions to coincide with holidays creates a sense of celebration and encourages users to engage with the app for their festive dining needs. QSR apps can offer:
- Limited-time holiday-themed menu items
- Special discounts or bundled deals for family gatherings
- Exclusive seasonal rewards and loyalty programs
The sense of exclusivity and time sensitivity associated with holiday promotions can drive a sense of urgency among users, motivating them to download and use the app to take advantage of these unique offers. Tapping into the sense of nostalgia is another great way for newer QSR apps to make their way into users’ hearts. Marketers can play up seasonal items that are specific to this time of year in order to encourage consumers to purchase quickly. This festive time of year presents an opportunity for QSR apps to not only boost user growth but also foster loyalty between the brand and new users.
Spreading Cheer with Referral Programs
Another way to increase retention during the holidays is by encouraging existing QSR app users to refer friends to download the app by offering rewards for successful referrals. People are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend and 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know. Marketers can offer rewards, such as discounts or free items to encourage users to actively promote the app to their network. This word-of-mouth marketing is particularly potent in the QSR industry, where personal recommendations carry significant weight. When it comes to food recommendations, consumers tend to trust their friends' preferences versus other forms of advertising.
Referral programs also tap into the psychology of reciprocity, fostering a positive relationship between the app and its users. As individuals are more likely to trust recommendations from people they know, these referral initiatives can amplify user acquisition efforts and contribute to sustained engagement as new users join the app based on the positive experiences shared by their connections.
Geo-Targeting for QSR App User Retention
There’s an immediacy to food purchases with over 80% of US diners making their decisions on the same day as they browse for restaurants. For QSR diners, purchase decisions are made even more in real time. Just as customers often look for QSR’s in their area to make a purchase, app marketers can utilize location-based targeting in order to find diners when they are near relevant restaurants or to take business away from competitors. By utilizing location data, QSR apps can deliver personalized and relevant content to users based on their current or frequently visited locations. For instance, sending push notifications with exclusive discounts or promotions when users are in proximity to a QSR location can prompt spontaneous visits. Apps can also send notifications to users when they are close to competitor locations in order to draw them away from that option.
Geo-targeting allows QSR apps to understand regional preferences and adapt marketing campaigns accordingly, ensuring that promotions resonate with the local user base. In fact, location targeting more than doubles performance of mobile ads. This localized approach not only fosters a stronger connection between the app and its users but also enhances the overall user experience by delivering content that aligns with their immediate needs, leading to higher engagement rates from user’s really resonating with the offers being provided. By tailoring retention efforts to specific geographic areas, QSR apps can create more impactful and resonant campaigns, ultimately solidifying user loyalty and encouraging sustained app usage.
Takeaways of QSR App Retention During The Holidays
With the holiday season upon us, consumers are busier than ever and trying to budget wherever possible. App marketers can take advantage of this busy time and employ various strategies to encourage users to download and consistently use quick service restaurant apps.
- Offering Value in a High Spending Season: The driving force behind this increase in QSR app downloads is the value that is being offered. Discounts and promotions entice users, especially during high spending times that occur in the last few months of the year.
- Holiday Specific Promotions: Holiday-specific promotions can be highly effective for QSR apps by capitalizing on the festive spirit and consumer behaviors during special occasions. Tailoring promotions to coincide with holidays creates a sense of celebration and encourages users to engage with the app for their festive dining needs.
- Spreading Cheer with Referral Programs: People are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend and 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know. Marketers can offer rewards, such as discounts or free items to encourage users to actively promote the app to their network.
- Geo-Targeting for QSR App User Retention: There’s an immediacy to food purchases with over 80% of US diners making their decisions on the same day as they browse for restaurants. For QSR diners, purchase decisions are made even more in real time.
- Localization: Tailoring app retention offers to the local fair or local popular items should resonate and create higher engagement using the information from each geo location. Popular items on the West Coast would likely vary from the MidWest or New York, as examples.