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Technology and food: a powerful selling duo


When Friday rolls around, most of us at Certus treat ourselves with a McDonald’s or Burger King for lunch. I love food and I’ve always been intrigued by the strategy that fast food and restaurants adopt when introducing a new menu or product to the mass market. Did Burger King invest a huge sum of money in customised marketing research before launching “Mac n' Cheetos”? The answer is yes... There’s actually an extensive decision-making process behind each new product.

Thanks to software testing and data analytics, fast food chains can test the financial impact of a menu item before it rolls out nationwide. Lately, however, fast food chains are utilising software to test a more innovative concept: How tech can impact sales and in some cases, replace human workers.


From digital menu-boards to online ordering through kiosks to targeted social media campaigns, technology’s reach in the food industry has never been more widespread.
Take the digital menu boards for example; they do more than just help selling hamburgers. Their very existence actually sells more food in general and lots of companies develop strategy plans to get the best impact on their customers.

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook promoted the chain's ability to "merchandise different items in different parts of the day and according to the weather." But the menu-boards can change considering the different hours of the day and even based on whether it’s rainy (because people tend to crave specific foods during bouts of bad weather) or sunny.

Data analytics has become integral to the success of fast-food restaurants. “It can be used in a number of ways” claims Easterbrook, “to test new menu items, to determine whether kiosks should be put on tabletops, to facilitate mobile ordering. In short, data can solve a lot of "what-ifs" such as does a new menu drive more lunch business? Is it profit positive? Am I stealing potential dinner profits? What types of items are being ordered?” 

Digital menu boards represent only the beginning of the “Digital Food Revolution”. Companies like McDonald’s and Pizza Hut have recently worked out a personalised and interactive way to collect their customers’ orders through digital kiosks, designed for customers who don’t want to wait too long for their order to be placed.

According to a study conducted by Tillster, a leading provider of restaurant digital ordering and engagement products and services that powers the likes of Burger King and McDonald’s, only 36% of people would wait in a line at a counter which is longer than 5 people. The other 64% say they would simply leave. Kiosks however, have the potential to alleviate lines. Many of the respondents in the study even said they'd choose to order from a kiosk instead of a human if lines were long enough.

So innovation is here and we can take our food experience to the next level: we can now use our handheld devices to view an interactive menu and see videos of featured menu items while waiting in line or after being seated. I remember when eating food with my family was a social occasion without any distraction or devices...What would my grandma say about this “Digital Food Revolution?!”

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