Though quick serves have traditionally fought for traffic from young, hungry men, the evolving American workforce created another important demographic that is increasingly demanding attention: working women.

Targeting working women is the subject of an exclusive panel at QSR’s Dine America conference, September 12–14 in Atlanta.

The panel includes Ellen Ryan Mardiks, worldwide director of marketing and brand strategy practice for public relations agency GolinHarris International; Dean Trevelino, founder of Tevelino/Keller Communications Group; and John Drinkard, director of marketing for Villa Enterprises.

Drinkard says women have often been the “gatekeepers to a lot of purchases,” but that today, with more dual-income households, quick serves are in a better position to secure business from women.

“Now, with a lot more women in the working force, basically what happens is the time poverty issue, where nobody’s got time to consistently go home and cook meals made from scratch,” Drinkard says.

Drinkard, whose Villa Enterprises oversees the Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen, Green Leaf’s, Bananas, and South Philly Steaks & Fries brands, says convenience is top of mind for working women, and especially mothers.

“How kid friendly are you? Are the bathrooms on the first floor? Is the staff helping keep the door open when they walk through because they’ve got a stroller? Do you have coloring books?” he says. “Anything that’s going to make their stay with you easier is a huge decision swing.”

Nutrition is also a major factor in the working woman’s purchasing decisions. Drinkard says chains like McDonald’s have made the right moves by offering lighter fare such as smoothies, wraps, and salads.

“If you’re doing something good for them,” Drinkard says, “it’s the repeat purchase that you know you’re going to get.”

Drinkard says an increased focus on kids meals also draws working mothers. He suggests adding some flare to kids meals because kid’s palates have changed over the years. A quick serve could, for example, ditch Mac and Cheese or Chicken Fingers and replace them with smaller portions of its adult meals, he says.

By not catering to a working woman’s needs, Drinkard says quick serves put themselves at risk of a powerful segment of consumers. Mommy bloggers, in particular, have become watchdogs of the industry, he says.

“Their voice needs to be heard,” he says. “They control so much of the household, we need to accommodate their requests.

“They have power in numbers. What used to be word of mouth is now viral, and messages get out there fast.”

To request an invitation to Dine America, click here. The deadline for booking accommodation at the Westin Buckhead with the special Dine America group rate is Friday, August 20.

By Sam Oches

Menu Innovations, News