Every restaurant chain worth its single serving packet of salt has invested in a mobile app, offering some variation of order for pick-up or order for delivery of its menu. Starbucks was one of the earliest adopters, launching the Starbucks Android app in 2009. By 2013, it was estimated that Starbucks was making 11 percent of its sales through mobile channels.
Today all the major restaurant brands have apps with McDonald’s rolling out ordering and payments for all 14,000 restaurants through the McDonald’s app throughout 2017. The past 12 months have seen the McDonald’s app achieve impressive penetration compared with other QSRs installed on 4.3 percent of all US Android devices by May 2018, an increase of almost 80 percent in a year.
Despite this impressive and continuous growth in the percentage of current installs over the past year, the number of people accessing the McDonald’s app daily did not increase significantly in the same period. In contrast, the number of daily active users of the Starbucks app in May 2018 was 10.6 percent higher than the previous June.
Dunkin’ Donuts, while installed on less than half the number of devices with the Domino’s Pizza USA app, saw around 50 percent more daily active users than the pizza chain app.
One reason for Starbucks’ increased app engagement is that ordering and payment through the app is tied to the company’s loyalty program. An eMarketer study showed that more people are using the Starbucks app to make mobile proximity payments than any other service, including Apple Pay and Google Pay. Using in-app payment to increase engagement, drive stickiness and create an essential experience around the app is a model that other QSR chains can learn and benefit from.
The way app usage rises and falls throughout an average day is a good indicator of how consumers perceive and use the app. Both Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks saw their highest number of users at 8:00 in the morning as people use the app to order their coffee for pick up on the way to work. Use of the Dunkin’ Donuts app falls off more precipitously after that, while users of the Starbucks app see a more gentle decline throughout the working day.
The McDonald’s app peaks at midday as people open the app to place their lunch orders. The Domino’s Pizza USA app has a slow start to the day ramping up after 2:00 PM and peaking at 6:00 PM.
In each instance, these lulls in usage around the clock represent an indication about where the chain should focus its marketing. While there may be fewer opportunities to sell pizza in the morning, McDonald’s breakfast menu suggests that the restaurant would like to drive more app usage before 10 in the morning.
Oddly, a small percentage of users for each app is thinking about coffee and fast food at four in the morning.
Having a mobile app for ordering food is becoming an essential part of running a national restaurant or cafe chain. That said, not all such apps are created equal. Even after promoting the app to regular customers and achieving high penetration, there are additional considerations driving mobile sales including the kind of food and drink on offer and the ‘when’ and ‘how’ of quick service consumption.
By Daniel Sevitt, market intelligence insights, Similar Web
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