Industry News | May 26, 2011

Exclusive Report: Fast Food Least Popular for Mobile Users

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A new study released by Equation Research in partnership with QSR shows that consumers are less likely to use a mobile device to access information on fast food restaurants than they are for all other segments of the restaurant industry.

The study, conducted May 12–17, shows that only 36 percent of consumers are very or somewhat likely to use their mobile device to access information on fast food restaurants. Thirty-two percent are very unlikely to use their mobile device for this information.

In comparison, 64 percent were very or somewhat likely to use their mobile device for fine-dining information, 62 percent were for a local restaurant, 54 percent were for a casual-dining restaurant, and 48 percent were for a bar or pub.

Chris Burke, vice president of research and development with Equation Research, says this fact means quick-serve companies will have to get more creative in their mobile offerings to customers.

“You don’t go online to read a review for a Wendy’s, or probably not,” Burke says. “You don’t even search for fast food places in your area. So I think [quick serves] have to be a little bit different, a little creative, [and] use the platform as a way to build loyalty—things like checking offers on Foursquare-type of applications.”

Overall, 38 percent of consumers use their mobile devices for dining-related activities, like searching for a restaurant, reading or writing reviews, or making reservations.

Meanwhile, 67 percent of consumers report using their computers for dining-related activities.

Still, Burke says the usage of mobile devices has not been overestimated in the public.

“I think we’re seeing the tip of the iceberg as far as mobile adoption goes,” he says. “In comparing the number of people using computers versus mobile right now, computer usage is still way ahead overall, but then when you start to look at break-down by different age groups … you’re seeing much higher adoption among the younger consumers.

Indeed, 59 percent of consumers age 18–24 report using their phone for dining-related activities, while 50 percent of consumers age 25–34 do. That figure drops to 44 percent for consumers age 35–44, 30 percent for consumers age 45–54, and 19 percent for consumers 55 and older.

Burke says this generational gap in mobile-device usage proves its prominence will grow quickly in the coming years.

“I don’t think it’s going to be an abrupt change; computers aren’t going away tomorrow,” he says. “I do think that’s where things are headed in the long term, but it’s kind of hard to put a time frame on that.”

By Sam Oches

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by QSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.


It's great to get more quantitative data on mobile usage for the QSR segment, so kudos to you guys for providing this great info. Just a comment on the takeaway from this data... while fast food is the dining segment for which mobile users are least likely to use their phone to access restaurant information, it is still a huge number at 36%! Stated another way, over one third of mobile users ARE using their mobile phones to access fast food restaurant information. That still sounds like a big opportunity to me.

QSRs can take advantage of mobile payment and mobile ordering today. There are companies that will create a mobile presence for the QSR complete with their menu and prices and give consumers the ability to pre-order and pre-pay on their smartphone. I've tried several of these solutions and found that a company called Splick-It provides the fastest and easiest to use solution. When I arrive, my order is ready, I skip the lines, pick up my order and go (or stay). Over time, one would think that those merchants with mobile order & pay capabilitywill take market share from those who don't embrace it.

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