Attracting the Rural Customer to Your Quick Service Restaurant

In October of 2017, people were lining up at theaters to watch the newly released remake of Steven King’s “IT” – featuring a killer clown named Pennywise. In some theaters, Burger King did something unexpected. In a dig at their archrival, McDonald’s, specifically Ronald McDonald, Burger King placed an ad, right before the credits rolled, that read “The moral is: never trust a clown”.

Digs between the top QSRs is certainly nothing new – in fact they never seem to get old. But after the ads fade from the screen, what influences fast food customers? Coupons? Direct Mail? Are those methods still effective? We believe so. And because we specialize in learning everything we can about the loyal fast food devotees in rural areas of the United States, let’s explore what drives their loyalty.

Recipe for Loyalty for Rural Fast Food Customers

In a survey taken in February of 2018, when rural respondents were asked what reasons they eat at any fast food restaurant, these were the top 10 reasons:

Price – 39%
Fast Service – 33%
Location – 33%
Appealing Taste – 30%
Drive-Thru – 28%
Quality of Food – 25%
Menu Selection – 24%
Coupon/Special Offer – 21%
Value Menu – 14%
Cleanliness – 12%

As you can see, the only advertising medium on the list is coupon/special offer. Advertising is way down on the list at 4% – not even in the top 10. This means that billboards, TV spots, radio spots, and yes even Super Bowl ads rank lower than cleanliness as far as securing loyalty with rural fast food customers. If you have a convenient fast food restaurant that offers tasty quality food in a clean building, with quick service, a good selection of items at great prices, as well as coupons and special offers…you’ve got a loyal rural customer.

Direct Mail + Coupons Drive Rural Customers

As a company, Mspark can’t do much to help fast food restaurants with most of the items on the top 10 list – unless restaurants need taste-testers for their golden French fries. We’d be happy to volunteer for that job! But we can speak to the power of coupons and special offers and using them to reach rural consumers.

When it comes to media influence for dining out purchases in rural areas, coupons and direct mail are still the top choices for consumers.

Coupons – 38%
Direct Mail – 21%
Social Media – 15%
Email – 14.1%
Newspaper – 12%
Mobile Sites & Apps – 9%
No trolling required

The Bottom Line for Quick Service Restaurant Success

Rural consumers are not difficult to please. They don’t need the latest and greatest technology to order and enjoy a hot plate of spicy fried chicken. They don’t require online ordering…nor do they require organic ingredients, or non-GMO this or that. Advertising Age may appreciate your creative ad and where it’s taking the restaurant’s brand. But for rural consumers, the brand and specifically brand loyalty, rests in the palms of their hands – the money they hand over in the drive-through, delicious waffle fries they enjoy for lunch, and even the coupons they are holding that they found in their mailbox.

Mspark understands how to advertise your restaurant business to the rural customer. Want proof? Download the quick service restaurant success stories below for detailed direct mail campaign results.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Mspark can help drive traffic to your restaurant and increase return on your advertising spend with direct mail, let’s talk. Fill out the form to get started today!

Prosper Insights & Analytics, 2018