The Forrester Wave™: CCCM

Fast Food Restaurants: Who Serves the Best Marketing Combo Meal?

The perception of healthy eating has certainly changed in the past few years: From the popularity of the keto diet to intermittent fasting to something called “cheese tea,” there has been a recent influx of food fads and trends for health-conscious consumers to try.

Yet, despite it all, fast food sales have remained steady. People continue to love the taste, convenience and price point of fast food, but the success of leading restaurants is also due in part to their culinary innovations and brand creativity.

Thanks to increased consumer interest in meatless options, many chains have added plant-based items to their menus. These alternative proteins are catching the eyes of everyone from longtime vegetarians to folks curious to taste something new.

The conversation surrounding these popular brands, however, goes beyond food entirely:

Speaking of conversations, social media became a hotspot for fast food restaurants to build a relatable brand, skewing towards sass and mock pettiness to foster a relatable online identity. No one achieved this quite as successfully as Popeye’s did in starting the Great Chicken Sandwich War of 2019

This social media savvy and relatability brings in a trend that many marketers are striving for in 2020 and beyond: brand transparency. There is no longer an emotionless wall between companies and consumers, because we all want to be spoken to like people, not transactions.

And so, with that in mind, we decided to examine how top fast food restaurants are marketing to their customers and if their email and mobile programs can keep up with their social media dominance.

User Engagement Teardown: Fast Food

In our latest User Engagement Teardown, we took a look at four leading U.S.-based fast food chains: McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, and Domino’s Pizza. We wanted to understand how each business adapted to user preferences and incentivized orders through welcome campaigns and promotions.

For our research, we registered for an account with each brand and increased our level of activity. We completed our profiles, downloaded their mobile apps, shared our location, and abandoned shopping carts before finally making our purchases.

After analyzing the content of all email and mobile messages received during our two-week study, we identified what these organizations are doing well and what areas could use improvement.

(Note: if you can’t see the embedded SlideShare, make sure to turn off any ad blockers!)

Note: McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell and Domino’s Pizza are not Iterable customers.

You can also see our past comparative teardowns (including a look at leading casual dining restaurants and U.S. broadcast news) on our Resources page.

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