Tag Archives: fast food

Fast-Food Industry Campaign to Win Back Millennials

When  you do a Google search for Millennials, the definition of the term is first on the page, but scroll down and you find articles on how Millennials are impacting the world. Headlines include “Where are Millennials?” or “The Millennials Are Coming!”. There are even articles on tips for successfully marketing to the generation. With many fast food restaurants experiencing decline in sales, research is pointing to Millennials as one of the factors.  Sources like the Business Insider and Wall Street Journal, report that young consumers are moving away from fast food and dining in at casual restaurants instead. Casual restaurants like Chipotle or Panera Bread and ones with healthier options. So what are fast food restaurants doing to combat this trend and win back Millenials? McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Wendy’s and even Burger King are taking on the challenge and implementing new marketing strategies to bring back a vital customer. Even if you aren’t in the fast food industry, the tactics these restaurants are using can be utilized for any food service establishment.

Reaching Customers Wherever, Whenevertaco-bell-app-twitter-hed-2014

If you follow Taco Bell on any social media site, you will get the message pictured to the right. Taco Bell has launched a new mobile payment and ordering app and blacked all their social media. This campaign was done to get attention in a surprising way from core customers who use social media. Taco Bell isn’t the only fast food restaurant working to make the industry mobile. Many restaurants are developing their own mobile ordering app to appeal to the Millennials who are on-the-go and want to be able to order their food and eliminate waiting in lines. The fast food industry is also enticing customers to sign up by offering special offers and deals exclusive to the app.

Instead of leaving social media, Burger King is utilizing the platform more than ever to stay relevant. Burger King’s strategies to bring back Millennials involve using nostalgia and staying current on social media . Burger King has used their social media sites to hype up the resurrection of the beloved chicken fries. In an attempt to appeal to those who loved chicken fries when they were younger, Burger King used Vine as way to grab the young consumers’ attention.  Instead of waiting for the customers to come to them, Burger King sought out the best platforms to reach Millennials and made sure their content was in line with current pop culture.

 Changing Up the Menu

McDonald’s has not only seen a decline in sales, but a decline of Millennials choosing their restaurant. Some have speculated that McDonald’s large menu could be to blame because too many options can be overwhelming. McDonald’s growing menu has added more “healthier” options due to the growing health conscious trend. Although they advertised their new healthier options with fresh vegetables, the sales still came up flat. Recently McDonald’s has taken a step back and said that they will be narrowing down their menu. Their newest campaign and attempt to be more transparent takes skeptics and reveals to them how their food is made and what is really in it. The campaign titled “Our Food, Your Questions”, includes advertisements of people asking about the infamous pink slime chicken nuggets and the grey frozen McRib. We will see in the next coming months how this pans out and if it appeals to Millennials or not.

Wendy’s may not be showing us what is in their food, but they are taking more risks with their menu. From the pretzel bacon cheeseburger to a variety of salads to the recent BBQ options, Wendy’s is trying to draw in the younger crowd by having not only more options, but unique ones. Their advertisements also reflect their effort by showing a group of young friends enjoying Wendy’s together and having a good time. Whether its with their modern redhead Wendy’s spokeswoman or ads with love songs dedicated to menu items, Wendy’s is customizing their marketing campaigns around Millennials.

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vegetables, Image from Morguefile

Food Stamps and Food Deserts: What’s the answer?

vegetables, Image from MorguefileWhile there have been a few updates in the 47 years since Congress passed The Food Stamp Act, most within the program have been relatively small.   Recently the program did away with stamps in exchange for a convenient card loaded with benefits and to go along with this new look, updated it’s name to the Supplemental Food Nutrition Program or SNAP.  Still the SNAP benefits serve the same purpose as the food stamps before it: to help ensure that individuals are receiving enough sustenance to keep them from the brink of starvation.

However, these days a new hurdle in feeding those in need has developed.  In the past, food was easily found at the corner store, local grocery or maybe even at a local farm or dairy.  Things are different in today’s economy, where many stores like these have closed in favor of big box supermarkets that can provide for larger areas and less access to farms.  This means instead of just worrying about if their benefits will be enough to feed their family, recipients are now also struggling to find a place to purchase their food.

Not having readily available food stores, referred to as food deserts, has become a hot button topic popping up everywhere from food blogs all the way up to the First Lady.   According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Food deserts are areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet.”

Because of these so-called deserts, which are largely populated by people on assistance, many are forced to do their shopping at nearby convenience and/or liquor stores.   Though it seems somewhat surprising that places like this would even be able to accept the SNAP  benefits, it is relatively easy for these and similar locations to meet the specifications.  The Record Searchlight says, “To apply, a potential Supplemental Food Nutrition Program retailer has to show that more than half of the total dollar amount spent at a store, including purchases of food, gas and services, must come from the sale of “eligible staple foods” such as meat, poultry or fish; bread or cereal; vegetables or fruits; or dairy products.”  This issue combined with the fact that the majority of states don’t have many restrictions on what can be purchased with the funds, has played a large part in the growing obesity rate among those enrolled in SNAP.

fast food, image from morguefileAn alternative solution to food deserts has been to allow the use of SNAP benefits to purchase fast food.   This has already been approved in states like Arizona, Michigan and parts of California.   New America Media has reported that the idea has even gained support from a group called Feeding America, comprised of executives from many large food companies.  This support is due to the fact that these food companies would see increased revenue due to to their stock in these restaurants.    But for patrons on SNAP benefits, having the money to buy French fries and chicken fingers doesn’t exactly make the growing obesity rate go down any more than buying foods from the local gas station.   However, according to WalletPop.com there is a valid reason for this approach.  The site says that, “The idea here is that many homeless SNAP recipients, as well as those with unstable living conditions — say, those who are sleeping on the couch of family or friends, or who are living in cramped and insufficient quarters — don’t have a place to prepare food.”  Essentially, the thought behind allowing SNAP use at fast food restaurants is that warm pre-prepared food,  is better than no food at all.  Fast food is often also easy to find in food deserts and they often offer nutritional options like salads.

As many are working towards simply providing those with SNAP benefits with any of food to keep them from starving, there is a bigger movement trying to make sure that the food is not just available, but also nutritious.  One such program, called Wholesome Wave, operates in California, Massachusetts and Connecticut.      The basis of this initiative is that farmer’s markets are set up in areas, most often in a food desert, and SNAP benefits are not only accepted for food purchases, but are actually doubled.  This means those using the benefits are able to get more food for the same price while simultaneously stimulating their local economy.  In an article from the Stamford Advocate it states that, “In 2008, Moody’s, the credit ratings and economic analysis provider, found that one food stamp dollar, when spent in a bodega or ordinary grocery store, created $1.73 in economic stimulus. The impact of the same food stamp dollar spent on regionally grown produce is still being studied by Wholesome Wave, but theories indicate that one SNAP dollar spent at a farmers’ market may create over $3 in local economic stimulus.”

Another attempt at providing healthy alternatives was recently announced by First Lady Michelle Obama.  During a news conference she stated that stores like Walgreens and Wal-Mart will soon open new locations to help decrease the food deserts.  The California Endowment reports that the California FreshWorks Fund will loan $200 million to establish stores that will provide healthy foods (eligible for SNAP benefits) in food deserts in California as well as stimulate the economies in which they reside.

After this announcement, some have come out against the partnership with big corporations instead of supporting smaller, local retailers.  However, SFWeekly.com puts the issue into a bit of a different perspective, “We think of Wal-Mart the same way we do of Starbucks: When we have a choice, we stop at locally owned cafes, but the chain has made it possible to get a decent cup of coffee in rural and suburban cities across the nation.”  The article goes on to add,“Sure, it’d be great to see independently run stores open in all those places, but it’s more important to find cabbage, oranges, and strawberries.”

Currently all of these groups, with ideas that cover a vast spectrum, are working to improve the situation of those who receive SNAP benefits and/or live in food deserts.  It may turn out that one option is better than another or with more observation the answer may be that combining several options is the solution.  In the end, only time will tell what will be both financially and nutritionally successful.

Please share your comments below on the food stamp (SNAP) and food desert issue and your suggestions on how you think the current situation could be improved.

July 2014 Update: Below are resources passed along by HumanityCampaign.org: