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The Series Restaurant Marketing Event Recap

The Series Post-COVID Data-Driven Restaurant Marketing

On May 12th, we assembled ten restaurant industry marketing leaders spanning food delivery services, virtual kitchens, quick service, and fast casual restaurants, and enabling technologies to discuss data-driven restaurant marketing post-Covid. We explored topics about consumer trends, innovation, agility, data strategy and more. Catch up on the fireside chat and two panels, as well as a great attendee survey and some engaging True-research. Here are the main takeaways from the event.

Big Trends: Restaurant Marketers Must Solve for New Challenges

Three themes emerged from the industry research and conversations we had with these marketing executives:

  • Pent-up demand will result in category growth. Consumers have a lot of choices with limited budgets.
  • The customer journey has changed. As users have settled on delivery services it has become harder to convert people into direct online app users.
  • Finding digital customers is harder due to privacy changes and loss of addressability.
restaurant trends
Empathy Is Crucial to Sustaining Ourselves as Humans in Business

The event kicked off with a “fireside chat” with the dynamic Jessica Jensen, who joined OpenTable/Kayak in November 2019 as the CMO. The pandemic forced her to focus exclusively on OpenTable as the travel/hospitality industry was hit particularly hard immediately and she had to adapt very quickly. As a global platform, OpenTable not only used data to identify trends and ease consumer fears but also shared data globally and positioned the brand as a thought leader. Jessica also shared the biggest learning and magic behind the business – empathy and kindness. Watch the full recording to explore more details.

Marketing Tone Emerged as a Big Focus Area for Restaurants

2020 was a memorable year to say the least. Everyone was impacted in their own unique way…restaurants were hit particularly hard. Many restaurant brands found a way to prosper. Most of them made significant investments in building digital direct customer relationships to enable data-driven growth. The panel of enterprise marketing executives from McDonald’s, Blaze Pizza, OMD, Starcom, and Pinterest explored topics across digital activation, data insights, industry innovation, and required agility.

  • Marketing tone became a big focus area for many restaurants as they navigated the Covid and political climate of 2020. “Figuring out what to say, how to say it, and where to promote required significant investments,” said Colleen Meenan, SVP of Starcom
  • The value of digital was no longer in question. “It was important to establish a strong foundation in order to create a more personalized experience for customers,” said Amy Adams, Global head of personalization of McDonald’s
  • Agility and the ability to pivot are required to succeed in 2020. Strategies often had to change at a country, state, and city level in order to keep up with dynamic regulations and Covid trends.
  • Digital and Data and essential to make real-time adjustments and the partnership and sharing of data are keys to business success.
Colleen Meenan talked about marketing tone at The Series restaurant marketing event
Co-marketing and Loyalty Will Continue to Grow in a Post-Covid World

Covid rapidly accelerated technology advancement and industry shifts that often required agility to keep up with demand. Significant innovation is coming from new technologies that mediate restaurant ordering and delivery. Executives from Kitchen United, Grubhub, Salted, and Punchh discussed innovation, fragmentation, customer data ownership, and what the future holds.

  • The panel shared the sensation that co-marketing and loyalty are two strategies that will grow beyond Covid.
  • Third-party delivery apps are ubiquitous and exist in a fragmented ecosystem. “The value prop is more important than ever. Delivery apps become an engine for restaurants to showcase and differentiate their offerings,” said Stephanie Kopa, Senior Director of Diner Acquisition at Grubhub.
  • Not all pivots were predictable… the pick-up business grew faster than delivery.  Jeff Appelbaum, CEO of Salted believes that a multichannel world will exist in the future.
  • Fragmentation doesn’t have to be a negative word. Some companies are using it to their advantage to build direct relationships with consumers
  • Seasonality and vaccination will play an important role in the recovery and the future of the restaurant industry.
Joy Lai talked about fragmentation at The Series restaurant marketing event
How Can Restaurants Make Better Data Driven Marketing Decisions?

During the event, we shared some fascinating findings about restaurant and food delivery customer insights that we, at TrueData, gleaned from an analysis of data from 200M+ mobile devices and five petabytes of consumer data. You’ll discover where consumers order food from, how likely they are to visit a physical store, and the data models you can use to predict future customers more effectively.

Restaurant eater insights

We also took the opportunity to poll event attendees on a range of vital questions about the day’s topics. 57 industry experts participated in the survey. Key takeaways? Restaurant marketers will invest in first party data, use data modeling, and increase the ad budget of the most effective marketing channels. Read the full survey results here.

Majority of marketing professionals expect the restaurant industry to fully recover in 2022


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