The average spend on fast food in the UK is £110 a month and even higher in the US. Here is how fast-food giants such as McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King are using certain techniques to capitalise on peoples love of fast food and to get you to spend more while in store.
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The Self-Service Kiosk
Their latest way of getting you to part with your cash. Is the self-service kiosk. Fast food chains are benefitting massively from these kiosks as recent studies have shown people are typically spending on average 20% more at self-service tills than they would when ordering from a person.
The main reason for this is upselling. The machines are designed to upsell to you in the form of going large on a meal or recommending additional items. This is particularly effective with machines, because unlike with a person, the machine doesn’t forget to ask you to go large or to recommend additional items. Whereas a person recommending a large or an additional McFlurry may seem a little pushy. However, when using the machine this tends to feel helpful rather than like a sales technique. The self-service kiosk is subtly nudging you to make purchases you didn’t intend to when you came into the store. Fast food restaurants clearly know this technique increases the average spend of their customers and have drastically cut back on the number of face-to-face tills available and have massively ramped up the number of stores with self-service kiosks. So, if you want to spend 20% less make your order in person.
Large Appetising Pictures
Large appetising pictures on the menu is the next technique they use. If you do manage to avoid the self-service kiosk then their next technique is to bombard your senses with large pictures of their food on brightly lit, colourful menus. These big appetising pictures with tiny writing means that you can only see the details of what you are buying, when you are close to the counter and the server is asking you for your order. This is effective as you don’t want to hold everyone up so you need to make a decision quickly, because of this you make a decision based on impulse rather than logic and value for money. You pick something in your eye line that looks good and 9 times out of ten the items taking up the most space on the menus are the most profitable.
But why can’t you just pick off the saver menu or value meals. Well, you can but fast-food retailers don’t make this easy. The items that enticed you into store like a 99p hamburger are nowhere to be seen and pushed onto a side wall, written on a plain black board, with tiny white writing, not very interesting or easy to see compared to the higher value items displayed in your face above the kiosk in bright lights.
Removing the £ sign
Removing the £ sign is another technique. When displaying the pricing of their items the pound sign is really small or removed all together. This is because research suggests that customers associate pound signs with spending and cost.
By removing the pound sign or making the price really small in comparison to the pictures of the food, they are removing the association of their food with cost and instead focusing your attention on the appetising food itself, so you are thinking with your stomach and not your head.
Promotion (McDonald's Monopoly)
Promotion is the next technique they use and one of the most lucrative campaigns ever in the fast-food sector is the McDonald’s monopoly promotion. This promotion sees millions of customers participating each year from all over the globe. The brilliance of this promotion lies in its simplicity and its gamification. You simply buy food and collect game pieces from one of the most well-known family favourite board games Monopoly, all for the chance to win major prize. This gamification of their food is all designed for you to spend more whilst in store and to visit the store more frequently. Here's how they achieve this…
Many people would buy food from McDonald’s regardless. But the monopoly promotion is designed to turn customers that always buy regular size meals to up their orders to large in order to get more stickers and more chances to win the big prizes. Meals are even advertised in store with the number of stickers that come with the meal. A regular chicken sandwich meal may have 6 stickers where a large meal may have 9. This is encouraging the customer to upgrade to a bigger more expensive meal to get more stickers and spend more money.
The other beauty of the campaign is you are unlikely to win the car, house or cash prize but you are likely to win a free cup of coffee or some food. With this free food comes another trip into store to redeem your winnings and is another opportunity for McDonald’s to take your money for a second time in quick succession. McDonalds is hoping that with that trip to store to collect your free coffee you decide to make additional purchases. Such as a breakfast McMuffin to go with that free cup of coffee or a meal to eat with that apple pie you won. Either way McDonalds is encouraging you to make purchases you wouldn’t have made and all for the cost to them of a free coffee or apple pie.