Recent Challenges Offer Long-Term Opportunities for Quick Service Restaurants

Craig Schumacher, VP, Industry Lead

As States continue to adjust their reopening plans, quick-service restaurants across the country are faced with many new challenges. From new customer and employee safety guidelines to massive shifts in customer behavior, the industry has been turned on its ear. However, as we begin to enter what we all hope to be brighter days, there are opportunities large-scale chains can take advantage of going forward.

Modernize Your Media Mix

One opportunity is for the industry to reexamine their overall media strategy. For decades the industry has relied heavily on traditional television as the cornerstone of their media mix, despite the sharp decrease in ratings and the lack of traditional television viewership by the industry’s most desired demos. With increased fragmentation across the video marketplace, there is an opportunity for the larger chains to demand more favorable terms on their TV commitments. If the larger traditional media houses are not willing to deliver more friendly terms, restaurant chains have more options than ever to replace them.

Pandora and Edison Research collaborated on a study measuring the impact of audio ads in a streaming environment vs TV ads in a television viewing environment, for the same QSR brand. Participants were divided into two test groups: the first listening to the brand’s audio ad in a Pandora environment, with the second group watching the same brand’s video ad in a TV environment. The Pandora audio ad outperformed the TV ad in several areas.

The study found that Pandora listeners are:

  • 2X higher than TV viewers to recall the QSR brand by name without prompting
  • 10X more likely than TV viewers to identify, unaided, the promotion that was advertised
  • 25% more likely than TV viewers to be able to recall the message of the ad without prompting

These results point to Pandora being a more effective ad environment than traditional television. With 121M unique visitors and 90% addressability, Pandora + SoundCloud provide large enough scale to replace a significant portion of a brand’s current TV schedule, or at the very least, supplement future traditional television buys. Pandora’s Soundboard research study shows on average, 65% of A18+ decide where or what they're going to eat for meals in the moment, making the recency of a brand’s message critical to its success. With access to ad-supported listeners across mobile, connected home, connected car, and desktop, Pandora can deliver a brand’s message to its most desired audiences at the right time to successfully influence the customer’s purchase behavior.

An APPetite For Mobile Ordering

The second area of opportunity for the industry is the sharp spike in first-party app usage. In a recent Pandora Soundboard Study, April 2020, 1 in 3 Pandora listeners said they used a first-party QSR app to order pick-up or delivery and 23% of listeners placed an order on an app for the first time. Growth across first-party brand apps had slowed across the industry but the shelter in place order shifted the behavior of historical store visitors to mobile orders. Mobile ordering has surged across the board as 46% of listeners regularly use mobile devices to order food for pick-up or delivery. This increase in first-party usage will allow restaurant chains to leverage larger pools of data more effectively across multiple digital publishers, such as Pandora. Prior to this increase in first-party app usage, even the largest restaurant chains struggled to effectively use their first-party data to positively impact sales with any true scale. This should no longer be the case, with millions of additional customers ordering via first-party mobile apps over the last 5 months.

Marketer Takeaways

As marketers across the QSR industry consider reentering the upfront marketplace, they should do so knowing they have several alternative methods for driving their business. As the “new normal” simply becomes the norm, marketers should be proactively looking to take advantage of new opportunities.

Digital partners such as Pandora can increase brand metrics, store visits, and mobile orders as effectively as traditional television. By adding new touchpoints to your media mix you can better influence your customers while they are making mealtime decisions.

With larger pools of first-party data, clients can create and target first-party audiences at scale. The industry now has access to more customer information than ever before. Let’s use this data to become smarter marketers without becoming paralyzed in the analysis. Test and learn, be creative, and move quickly while protecting your data.


Source: Comscore Media Metrix June 2020 (P13+ Mobile, P2+ Desktop) Pandora Audience Exchange, Pandora Internal Metrics from Q1-20, Pandora Soundboard, COVID-19 Verticals Study, A18+ (N=2,860), April 2020, Pandora Soundboard, QSR, A18+ (N=1,715), Edison Research QSR Ad Test Study, April 2020