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Bloomin’ Brands exec: Mobile has measurable effect on dining choices

NEW YORK – A Bloomin’ Brands executive at the 2014 MMA Forum discussed how mobile has a measurable effect on consumer casual dining choices, stressing that continuity is key for brand strategy on mobile.

A Bloomin’ Brands and xAd executive spoke about how mobile devices have emerged as a significant influencer in consumer path to purchase in deciding when and where to eat during the “Location: Closing the Sale with Your Customer” session. Per the session, a main advertising objective for restaurant brands then becomes driving consumers to their locations.

“It has to start with what that media will do for you,” said Karen Soots, vice president of media services at Bloomin’ Brands Inc., Tampa, FL.

“Clearly understand your objective and what drives your business to make mobile work for your benefit,” she said. “Know what you’re looking to get out of mobile before you jump into it.”

Mobile continuity
Embracing online and mobile continuity is essential to forming a strong consumer brand perspective.

Marketers frequently look at customer experience as an entirety of factors, yet the mobile experience for consumers is fragmented, where the use of multiple devices causes unpredictable interaction patterns that stray from the carefully constructed paths made by marketers.

Effective mobile advertising then must rely on gathering data from consumers, and providing offers and messages that are personalized to help create informed and predictable decision-making.

With more casual and QSR diners relying on mobile for spontaneous decision-making in choosing an eatery, marketing to the on-the-go consumer is the equivalent to trying to hit a moving target. Dining company Bloomin’ Brands tries to tap into this with bought and owned media tactics.

By reminding consumers of their dining options with the Bloomin’ Brands family — Outback, Carrabba’s, Bonefish Grill, Flemings, and Roy’s — and then rewarding them for their choice in a meaningful way such as discounts and rewards, the company remains in constant interaction with its customers and reinforces the value proposition and benefits it offers.

360-degree approach
Restaurant chains in particular face a marketing dilemma because they not only want their promotions to be responsive across multiple segments, but also must maintain that brand in all markets.

Bloomin’ Brands approaches this challenge with geo-location, which curates a map and pinpoints near locations when a consumer conducts a mobile search.

Specific restaurants may have different menu items, hours and coupons based on demographics, and being able to easily promote these without confusion can be solved by tailoring tailored messages based on consumer proximity to a restaurant.

When incorporating geo-location data into marketing strategies, Ms. Soots stressed the importance of knowing exactly whom is being targeted.

“Know these customers, find out what they respond to, and build awareness without straying from brand image,” she said.

This information provides insights into consumer dining habits and preferences so brands can better understand customers, which gives said companies unprecedented control of messaging and promotions.

“This enables us to target consumers based on dining time and distance to our restaurant and competitor’s,” Ms. Soots said.

“A lot of brands rely on unpaid media, and while this is great, fandom and ‘Likes’ don’t translate into measurable data,” she said. “Mass reach is first, then, all the smaller things will come.”

Final Take:
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York