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.