According to a report by eMarketer, restaurants have become the most common search on mobile devices. Oftentimes, for consumers, the question of what to have to eat is followed by the question of “What’s nearby?” Smartphones have enabled many consumers a medium to turn to for guidance while on the go, according to the eMarketer report entitled “Mobile Fast Food Marketing: How QSRs and Fast Casuals Are Getting Quicker and Faster.”
Fast food typically refers to quick-service restaurants (QSRs) like McDonald’s and fast casuals like Five Guys Burgers and Fries. These two segments are becoming increasingly blurred for bother consumers and marketers, especially as mobile is having a major impact on trends and consumer experience in both industries. Mobile is one of the highest listed technologies for both fast casuals and QSRs to plan on adopting.
And there is good reason for fast food marketers to focus on mobile. Fast casual and QSR customers are more likely than other industry customers to own smartphones. According to foodservice research firm Sandelman & Associates:
“Forty-four percent of consumers who eat fast food at least monthly owned smartphones in the last quarter of 2011.”
That’s 14 percent higher than eMarketer’s estimate of overall smartphone ownership for the same period, and they are strictly using the phones to look for dining options. According to local search advertising company YP, 24% of mobile searches on its network in September 2012 were for restaurants, the largest share of any category.
When consumers are using their phones for fast food restaurant searching, proximity becomes one of the most important factors. As of June 2012, nearly 64% of smartphone users searching for restaurants expected results within walking or short driving distance. The same study also found that nearly two-thirds of consumers purchased a meal within an hour of their search, making immediacy and availability a prime focus for consumers.
There are plenty of reasons for marketers to seek out and make themselves available to these mobile users that are hunting for their next meal. For those looking to put in an order or find a good deal while heading out the door, fast food is getting unmistakably faster and smarter.