May 20, 2019

Better Mobile Apps are Building Brand Loyalty

While core fundamental drivers like craving and taste remain pillars that shore up customer loyalty among Quick Serve (QSR) and Casual Dining (CDR) restaurants, a brand’s mobile app is emerging as a potent player in this dynamic space. In fact, it may be the only way to drive sales frequency among the increasingly important younger demographic.

Quantifind’s proprietary machine learning/AI enables us to look at real, un-aided consumer conversation and separate the signals that actually drive business from those that simply generate inconsequential noise (i.e. “buzz”). By diving deep below the surface of unstructured data, Quantifind has recently determined that the quality and effectiveness of mobile apps can be linked to significant revenue growth for restaurant brands. 

This critical insight is made evident in the chart below. Conversation topics, including craving and taste, are more dominant in organic conversation (buzz) while issues related to drive-through and mobile apps index much higher in buyer conversation – those conversations that are likely to drive business. This implies that these topics are more meaningful signals with respect to revenue and must be executed with perfection to ensure great customer experience and drive future brand loyalty.

Conversations That Drive Business (Buyer) vs Those Driving Buzz (Organic)

©2019 Quantifind Deep Dive

The Chat on the App is on the Up

The chart below maps the growth of buyer conversations around mobile apps over the last two years. It gives a clear indication that mobile apps within this vertical are being talked about more frequently, and that they are becoming increasingly central to the dining decision-making process. Restaurant brands that capitalize on this trend with an up-to-date mobile app strategy are likely to win market share while those who don’t will quickly fall outside this collective conversation, risking relevancy and popularity.

Top/Bottom 10 Brands with Change in Mobile App Conversation YoY

©2019 Quantifind Deep Dive

Savvy restaurant brands are bolstering their mobile app armament as a way to meet consumers where they are increasingly present—on their phones. This investment pays dividends on two fronts: the consumer has a positive brand experience, possibly earning loyalty rewards, incentives or other perks; and it enables the brand to mine valuable data as a way to better understand customer behavior. This can help inform future efforts with respect to product development, messaging, and media planning.

What is also crucial to appreciate is that 55% of the buyer conversations around mobile apps are conducted by women. In addition, when looking at growth in mobile app conversations year-over-year, it is Generation Z—the under 21 cohort—who present the greatest opportunity for targeted growth.

Clearly, the chat on the app is on the up. The question is: Which brands will be able to detect the salient buyer signals underlying the mobile app conversation, enabling them to capitalize on this critical new trend? (Followed by the more important question: How does your brand rate?)

Donuts Doing Circles Around the Competition

We were able to robustly assess buyer sentiment with respect to mobile apps from 20 of the 47 brands in our restaurant dataset, and the findings are stunning. Ninety percent of our assessment pool shows a Negative Net Sentiment about the apps, meaning that the overwhelming majority is on the wrong side of consumer expectations. Krispy Kreme heads up the elite group of just two that scored a Positive Net Sentiment. The rest of the pack was distributed across three tiers of increasingly dire consumer expression: minor negativity, concerning negativity, and those that are actually likely to alienate consumers via their mobile app experience.

Mobile App Net Sentiment Buyer Score by Brand

©2019 Quantifnd Deep Dive

So, how did Krispy Kreme use app technology to sweeten the hearts and minds of consumers? Our analysis of their conversations shows that their app successfully combines utility with a deep understanding of their customers’ needs. The user interface foregrounds the most important element consumers care about, which is temperature, and leverages convenience and intuition to make it easy. The app—which lights up when fresh hot donuts are ready—is genius in its simplicity and brilliant in its ability to mine loyal consumer data.

The Krispy Kreme app’s map interface with “Hot Now” location indicators

Act on Gaining Actionable Data

Mapping and analyzing behavioral trends in the restaurant category using Quantifind’s proprietary machine learning/AI shows that the winners are going mobile. This is the emerging buyer signal that drives business versus those conversations that drive buzz. Our analysis of buyer conversation shows that a seamless and satisfying digital experience is emerging as a key strategy for driving revenue growth and brand loyalty. This is not a battle you can afford to lose if you want to stay relevant and central to consumers’ dining decisions.

To learn more about how consumers are thinking about mobile apps, how they’re disrupting the restaurant business, or how to make the most of your brand’s mobile app performance, please contact us at