Kids are “vital consumers” of digital marketing and successful restaurant strategies often leverage digital entertainment to increase brand engagement with kids, according to market research firm Packaged Facts.
Acceptance by kids strongly influences parent choice in where to dine and parties with kids aged 12 and younger account for almost $18 billion in annual restaurant spending, according to Foodservice Marketing Trends in the U.S.: Technology, Mobile, and Social Media.
“Digital gaming provides the opportunity for restaurant operators to bridge the gap in marketing to the whole family,” says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, in a release.
Texas Roadhouse already is employing this strategy with its Legend Hunters game. The program features an ongoing story with characters discovering legends such as Blackbeard. A QR code on children’s menus activates a downloadable application for their parents’ iPhones, smartphones and tablets. Kids can then color scenes from the story with options to email, save, print or upload them to their Facebook pages for family and friends to see.
Restaurants also can use digital entertainment as part of the dining experience.
Chili’s, for example, offers tabletop tablets with unlimited games for a small fee. The restaurant claims that customers at roughly one in 10 tables pay to play during the meal, providing an additional source of revenue and perhaps even a few minutes of distraction in which weary parents can finish their meal.
Restaurant apps for kids also provide the perfect vehicle to build brand loyalty. For example, Dr. Panda’s Restaurant allows kids to “cook” delicious food for the animal guests. Dr. Panda’s cookbook has foods from all over the world that kids can make through a series of engaging minigames.
Other family-related findings from the report show that restaurant-goers with kids are far more likely to use mobile app features and intend to use these aspects in the future. Families are 73% more likely than average to get personalized deals thru mobile apps and 70% more likely to scan a QR code.
Likewise, mobile order and pay has a strong incentive among families, as it puts the process in control of families and they can initiate the timing of these activities to coincide with their needs. Restaurant-goers with kids are 56% more likely than average to pay for their order with mobile apps, 57% more apt to place an order for pickup and 61% more likely to place an order for delivery.