Fast-Food Brands Are Making Slick Mobile Apps to Stay Ahead of Small, Fast-Casual Restaurants

From loyalty programs to reordering

For decades, fast-food chains have chased quick sales with limited-time promotions and products (R.I.P. McDonald’s McPizza and Wendy’s 2012 luxe hamburger with lobster claws and caviar) and revenue-minded marketing intended to drive incremental foot traffic to restaurants.

But with changing consumer tastes for healthier options and new technologies that streamline ordering and delivery, quick-serve restaurants are ramping up their digital game to compete with the slew of fast-casual eateries like Shake Shack, Chipotle and Whataburger.

“Smaller brands are frequently more nimble and able to execute better site merchandising features like nutrition facts and dietary filter than many of the big brands,” said Bill Duffy, associate director of CPG at L2 Research.

Burger chain Whataburger, for example, lets users filter the menu on its website by nutritional and type of sandwich, Duffy noted.




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This story first appeared in the March 12, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.