The Rapid Evolution of Quick Service Restaurants

Author: Katie O'Mara

The Rapid Evolution of Quick Service Restaurants

Copacino Fujikado is fueled by curiosity. Our Insights team monitors an ever-evolving landscape of industries, eager to uncover new trends, insights, and strategies that set the pace for successful marketing campaigns.

Few categories have changed as quickly as Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs). These eateries are a force in the hospitality industry, evolving at an impressive pace due to new customer preferences and technological innovations. These changes coincide with advances in data collection and analytics, altering the way QSRs understand their customers’ mindsets and needs and create personalized experiences for them.

It’s projected the category will have a compound annual growth rate of 5.60% over the next six years, and will be worth $454.3 billion in the US by 2030. While impressive, this growth is not particularly surprising. QSRs were able to weather pandemic slowdowns better than other formats, with consumers pivoting to drive-through and showing a willingness to engage with automation of service as labor shortages continued to have an impact.

Building on this strength, QSR companies have been able to test and implement new strategies to engage with their consumers across multiple channels. Many have seen success with the implementation of loyalty programs and apps, curbside delivery and third party ordering platforms, along with building out drive through capacity and dine-in options. As customers have become accustomed to availability of these channels from the more prominent chains, the expectation is that they will be able to order and receive their food when and how they want it from all of their favorite restaurants.

These new opportunities offer exciting avenues for marketers to explore and leverage moving into the future:

  • Expanding personalized offers using apps and loyalty programs based on engagement data and machine learning: This is especially important for younger generations who are accustomed to this kind of personalization in other areas of their lives. “At its core, data allows you to be more authentic in how you relate and engage with consumers, cultivating a sense of belonging that enhances long-term loyalty,” Ori Bauer, QSR Magazine.
  • Building on delivery in new and re-imagined channels: QSRs will continue to explore use of kiosks to alleviate labor concerns and to improve operations processes through better training and new systems to increase order fulfillment and accuracy. Speed and accuracy are initial building blocks to customer loyalty, which can be further increased by novel experiences and personalized marketing outreach.
  • Engaging with specific communities of customers in new ways: McDonalds recently announced a new campaign launch inspired by homages to the brand in anime and manga since the 1980s. The WcDonalds campaign will reach 30 global markets with a special sauce, new packaging, episodic content and a dine-in experience in Los Angeles. Inviting in specific fan sub-cultures opens the door to new audiences and creates limited-time experiences.
  • Leveraging unique merchandising and partnership opportunities: PNW icon Taco Time is a favorite local example. They’ve started selling bottles of their secret recipe hot sauce in all locations and making it available (along with signature crisp burritos) through another local heavy-hitter, Smith Brothers Farms. Opening up new access points for customers builds additional revenue streams and acts as a reminder of the larger offering.
  • Re-envisioning the role of dine-in experiences to retain the value of real estate: While many QSRs have been expanding drive-through capacity, others are rethinking their indoor and outdoor dining spaces. Whether it’s creating new shade solutions or private outdoor spaces, prioritizing delivery to your parked vehicle, or creating spaces for EVs to charge while you enjoy your meal, QSRs are expanding their definition of on-premise dining to encompass new desires for convenience and comfort.

With experimentation, change and continued growth on the horizon, the QSR category is brimming with possibility for business owners and marketers. We’d love to hear about how we can help with your next big idea.