The top 10 quick-service restaurant apps in the U.S. were downloaded 10.8 million times in March, 2.85 percent more than those the month prior. Year-over-year in the month of March, downloads of the top 36 quick-service restaurant apps are up 13 percent. A download represents a new user and the first conversion on the mobile app customer’s journey.
There was a lot more chart month-over-month chart movement this period than we’re used to. Wendy’s is back on the board, shooting up five spots from No. 15 last month to No. 10 this March. KFC is the next largest gainer, climbing four pegs to make its way back on the board and all the way up to No. 8. Chipotle, now on the board for the third month in a row after a long hiatus, jumped up three spots to No. 7. Taco Bell and Dunkin’ both improved their ranking by two. Burger King and Pizza Hut both fell three spots and off the board, while Chick-fil-A dropped down two spots to No. 6.
The quick-service app with the most download growth from February to March was Blaze Pizza, thanks to its 10th annual Pi Day deal. Downloads for the pizza app grew a whopping 660 percent thanks to the promotion that enabled customers to score a pizza for just $3.14. The offer was only open to rewards members who unlocked it via their mobile app. Last year’s promotion saw just a couple of thousand downloads more than this year’s.
March was rare in that there were another two apps with month-over-month growth of more than 100 percent. Most months do not even have one app with 100 percent growth. Dairy Queen came in at 193 percent while Tim Hortons came in at 107 percent. Dairy Queen owes its new users to a promotion for its famous Blizzard ice cream item. The Blizzard launched in 1985 and from April 10 to 23, app users can get the frozen treat for just 85 cents.
Downloads surged late March which could be a sign of a miscommunication, or a mistimed announcement, as the offer is not valid until April 10th. Reading reviews of the app, there are some people who were looking for the promo already but could not find it. Dairy Queen should do another round of press (if it can get it) closer to the actual promo, otherwise it is lessening its already low chances of keeping new users from a transactional promotion. These types of promotions tend to retain users at a lower rate.
Tim Hortons’ new app users came from its annual Roll Up to Win promotion, which helped it become March’s top growth app last year. Even with its 107 percent growth over February, it remains a very small app in the U.S. as Dunkin and Starbucks own the vast majority of the coffee market there. On top of the promotion’s normal prizes, there is a daily jackpot of $10,000. Participants must have an active account on the mobile app and they are able to get an extra roll when placing a mobile order.
The first quarter of the year is almost always the slowest in terms of quick-service restaurant app downloads, with each consecutive quarter growing in number. I’m ready to see how loyalty programs grow and expand and to find out which brand integrates some form of advanced AI into their mobile app experience first.
Adam Blacker is the VP of Insights at Apptopia, the leader in real-time competitive intelligence. Brands use the platform to generate insights across mobile apps and connected devices. They rely on Apptopia to better understand consumer behavior and intent across app-based devices to gain a competitive advantage.