Study: Restaurant strategies differ for smartphone, tablet apps

Study: Restaurant strategies differ for smartphone, tablet apps
Staff Writer

Restaurant patrons are turning to their mobile phones much more to search for their next place to eat, and their usage patterns for mobile Web browsers or apps on smartphones and tablets all differ to the point that foodservice brands need separate strategies to accommodate everyone, a new report has found.

According to the “Mobile Path-to-Purchase Study,” conducted by mobile network xAd and mobile researcher Telmetrics and based on data from Nielsen, mobile searches for restaurants convert to food orders 90 percent of the time, which is higher than conversion rates for searches relating to travel or car purchases.

People searching for restaurant information on mobile phones or tablets also exhibit a greater sense of urgency, the study found. While 90 percent of those users look to convert their search into a restaurant visit by the end of the day, 64 percent of smartphone users do so immediately or within an hour of searching. Forty-four percent of tablet searchers visit a restaurant immediately or within an hour.

Different devices, different strategies

The differences in purchasing behavior resulting from tablet and smartphone apps result from the way people tend to use each device, said Monica Ho, chief marketing officer for xAd. Smart phones perform the restaurant searches when users are on the go, while tablets serve the same end mostly when users are at home, where connectivity to the Internet is most optimal for tablets, she said.

“Although both smart phones and tablets are mobile devices, the tablet’s size and sometimes lack of data connectivity prohibits it from being the portable, always-on device like smartphones,” Ho said. “As a result, marketers need to consider separate smartphone and tablet strategies when looking to reach the highly engaged and ready-to-buy restaurant user, as consumer needs and immediacy of intent vastly change by device.”

While more chains are finding their way with smartphone apps, early adopters of the technology, particularly the nation’s largest pizza chains, already are formulating tablet apps that take advantage of different functionality than their smart-versions.

After being first to market with an iPhone app in 2009, Pizza Hut followed that up with an iPad app in May 2011. While the tablet version contained all the same ordering functions, it also had a more interactive component of being able to “finger paint” with an animated pizza by stretching, pinching and swiping the screen as toppings were added to a pizza order.

Similarly, Domino’s Pizza’s tablet app, introduced in November 2011 five months after its smartphone app rolled out, had exclusive entertainment elements that would not suit a user on the go or driving. The “Pizza Hero” game contained within the tablet version let players simulate the experience of making a Domino’s pizza from the dough stretching at the start to cutting the pizza in the box at the end.

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