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Food used to be the main reason people walked in and out of restaurants in droves. These days, however, food is taking a backseat and technology has taken over.
This is why two major chain restaurants, Outback Steakhouse and Taco Bell made marketing waves yesterday, not with new product rollouts but industry leading technology news.
Taco Bell went out of their way to unveil an advanced mobile app that would enable folks order and make payments on their smart phones and pick their food.
In an aim to draw attention in the social media and publicize the new app, all of Taco Bell’s social media platforms – Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter – went dark yesterday, revealing the latest way to Taco Bell is #onlyintheapp. All their social media platforms as well as Taco Bell, provide a link to download the app. Consumers who had the preceding Taco Bell mobile app will get an automatic update to the latest mobile ordering app.
“Technology has fundamentally changed the way people interact with brands,” Brian Niccol, President of Taco Bell was quoted as per USA TODAY. “All can be done any time, any place on a smart phone.”
The force behind the social media collapse: chat.
“We wanted to make sure our fans were the people who found out about this first,” said Tressie Lieberman the senior director of digital platforms. “We wanted to break through with a message that gets them excited and talking.”
At the same time, Outback made known plans to roll out an industry-first online reservations tool for mobile, laptop or iPad users that shows real-time seat vacancies for every Outback in the country. It also allows for online booking.
Latest technologies are driving the $683 billion restaurant industry in an unprecedented manner. Starbucks and McDonald’s are spending huge sums of money on new technology. So are Domino’s, Papa John’s and Pizza Hut. The new technologies are aimed at millennial consumers who have a preference for quick interactions on their smartphones than having to stand in line or seat waiting for an order. Chili’s has technology that enables folks to order more food, pay or play games on tabletop tablets.
“Everyone is trying to stay ahead of everyone else in terms of connectivity,” says Jerry McVety, the founder of food service consulting firm McVety & Associates. Nowadays, he says, the number one goal is “get the customers and provide technology and services to keep them.”
It isn’t just Millennials. “It’s well known that younger consumers are more likely to accept-and even request- technology options being part of their dining experience, but we are finding that older consumers are also willing to incorporate technology for a variety of restaurant related activities,” said Hudson Riehle, the senior Vice President of the National Restaurant Association.
56% of consumers aged 45 to 64 had recently used technology options in restaurants. Four out of ten have looked up menus or ordered food online in the past month. Approximately a third looked up restaurant locations on a smartphone. Over one in ten have ordered delivery/takeout, made a reservation via tablet or phone apps or looked up nutrition information, Riehle says.