Winning at foodservice has never been more challenging. Short-term winners are realizing the power of digital menu boards to promote offers but integration of emotional appeal is still in its infancy.
Digital menu boards provide functional benefits to QSR operators by providing an easy, flexible platform for in-store brand and product messaging across all day parts. The ability to centrally control time-of-day offers or to focus menus on specific community needs, store by store, provides operational and cost efficiencies.
Foodservice customers are time-stressed. Their demands for perceived faster service, better selection, and simplified menus are significantly heating up the competition in the foodservice industry.
Increasing integration of media across all platforms has the ability to build stronger emotional connections with your customers. Here are five ways restaurants can use digital menu boards to boost engagement:
1. Set the mood no matter the time of day
Within a tightly defined time period (at breakfast or lunch), customers seek specific meal solutions tied to time of day appetite appeal. Digital menu boards provide the ability to change messages to meet temporal and emotional needs of each day part. Where customers may have a need for speed on the way to work, they may require a different pace of engagement during lunch or dinner.
2. Promote health benefits while complying with government regulations
Increased government requirements for caloric information on menus requires cost effective ways to convey this information to customers. Digital menu boards provide an easy way to communicate health messages, and can promote health benefits while enhancing appetite appeal.
3. Increase in-store entertainment and manage perceived wait times
Integrating video content into menu boards can provide in-store entertainment to manage the perception of wait times or enrich the in-store dining experience. Video presentation of food offerings can enrich emotional appetite appeal, promote variety, offer seasonal, weekly or time-of-day promotions, and incentivize customers to consider and try new offerings.
While customers appreciate a simplified selection of great tasting products, digital menu boards enable visual disruptors to promote limited time offers to create in-store excitement and manage perceived wait times.
4. Utilize your menu board as a measurement tool
Use your menu board as a tool to measure how you’re doing. What metrics have you established for the effectiveness of each menu option based on time, weather, or other factors? The flexibility of the digital menu board enables customized messaging with predictable success in each store.
5. Build stronger relationships between servers and customers
If effective messaging is the meat, service is the gravy. Digital menu boards should integrate your brand experience.
How effective is your digital menu board at giving your brand ambassadors more time to interact with customers? A simple, easy-to-use menu allows your service staff to develop a culture of connectivity with consumers. Over time, servers and customers will develop emotional rather than transactional relationships.
In our repositioning of M&M Food Market, we used digital communications to create integrated engagement between brand ambassadors and customers. Further integration of in-store menus and on-pack communications created seamless brand and service messaging.
While food quality differentiates your brand offering on a functional level, the formation of personal relationships with your customers builds long-term brand loyalty. Those relationships can also mitigate the perception of service challenges. Customer relationships must be hard-wired into your brand DNA as a distinct brand advantage.
Does your menu board build your brand experience beyond the restaurant?
Expand your reach by getting out of the restaurant and into customers’ decision trees. Customer connectivity occurs well before they choose your store as a meal destination and continues well after completion of the meal experience. As customers contemplate where to eat today, past brand experience will color current brand choice.
Digital menu boards entice customers with emotional appetite appeal which is the cornerstone of connecting with the consumer. Promotions of healthy benefits provide further rational for selection. And management of service perception is a bonus.
But beyond effective message construction and delivery lies the opportunity to engage customers by improving their QSR experience. Brand health depends on continuous customer connection from first rumbling of the stomach to a seamless payment solution. The promise of digital menu communication from physical back wall, to drive thru, to hand held devices, and the tailoring of messages to specific customers is inevitable and what customers demand.