Food Recommendations: How To Boost Your Customers Buying

If you walk into a McDonalds and ask for a number 2, you will be asked by the cashier if you would like to upgrade your meal by making it a medium or a large. While at first this may seem like just another up-selling opportunity, in-fact also a form of product recommendation. For example, when ordering a Big Kids Meal, the cashier won’t ask if you want to upgrade. It doesn’t make sense based on your purchase.

Today, most restaurants and QSR’s practice product recommendations in one form or another, but thanks to the technology and advance market research, targeting consumers with ‘smart’ recommendations is leading to an increase in profitability and brand awareness.

Here are 10 best practices to help integrate and manage product recommendations for your restaurant or business.

1. Smart Visual Placement
To an extent, consumers are attention-deficit in the sense that they are bombarded with hundreds of messages every where that they go that they learn to block out irrelevant noise. Restaurants should focus on showing product recommendations and visuals that influence customer buying behavior near and or with conversion points. Integrating a visual that shows the product of the month near the point of sale or a special deals window sticker in the drive-through lane would be great examples of this.

2. Selective Inventory Promotion
When deciding what products to promote, consider determining on the basis of product availability. By doing so, you will have more inventory control as well as help prevent food waste (due to expiration) as well as guarantee that you are maximizing the products at hand.

3. Data
The restaurant and QSR industry has been relatively behind in the way that data is applied when it comes to recommendations, but thanks to technology, capturing customer data is now attainable. Using loyalty programs as the main conduit for capturing customer data, restaurants now have an effective method to find out information such a what a user is buying and when.

Note: ‘traditional’ methods of loyalty programs, like punch cards, are an ineffective method of data capture.

4. Timing
A recommendation can only be successful if it’s provided at the appropriate time. For a restaurant or QSR, this means giving recommendations at the time of purchase, or in the case of sit-down restaurants, at the time of order. As a rule of thumb, presenting promotions and recommendations too early will not register with your customers appetite, while recommendations provided later will tend to be ignored. Additionally, using data on customers you can time recommendations based on behaviors you have mapped out. Example: You know a user always comes to your store on Tuesdays, but they have not been in yet. Sending them a text message letting them know that you have a a special today (Tuesday) will likely see a conversion out of it.

5. Local vs. Global
Knowing when to promote what corporate wants versus what fits your surrounding area is something that should be taken into account. For example, an area that is per-dominantly health conscious may not take to recommendations for products that are unhealthy. Make sure that all your promotions and recommendations fall line your region as well as what consumers expect from your brand. 

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