The ability to measure real-world foot traffic at scale is leading to very interesting competitive and customer insights. For example, not long ago, NinthDecimal was able to use store visitation data to predict the closure of Sports Authority stores and which rivals might benefit. Earlier this week Foursquare discussed the adverse impact that Trump’s presidential campaign is having on Trump hotel visitation.
Also recently, xAd released its second quarter QSR Foot Traffic Trends report this week. The report examines and analyzes data from “nearly 37 million visits to 16 top QSR brands, such as McDonald’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Starbucks and Jack In The Box.” It offers demographic and competitive data that previously wasn’t available except through less reliable consumer surveys.
Comparing the performance of “fast food” vs. “fast casual” chains, the report finds that fast food has made something of a comeback, with McDonald’s the overall leader. It also compares regional behaviors and dining trends.
In the fast casual category, Chipotle continued its long, slow road to recovery, boosted by a free burrito offer that ended in April. After that, however, foot traffic declined again.
The foot-traffic data also reflect (as would sales data) that the majority of Chipotle’s traffic is during the week at lunchtime. Rival Qdoba, however, sees more foot traffic on the weekend according to xAd.
The report also examines late night fast food visitation patterns. Comparing Jack In The Box, Burger King, Domino’s and Taco Bell, the data showsgains for all these chains between midnight and 3 am. However Jack In The Box is overwhelmingly the dominant late-night chain.
All of this data is very interesting. The question is “what’s actionable here?”
Beyond benchmarking performance, the data reveal potential conquesting and growth opportunities. In what markets and during what times of day should these chains be targeting rivals? Which brands are more direct rivals and which ones are only indirect competitors? Which promotions and campaigns are most effective to bring people into stores.
All marketers and brands that have physical locations should be doing this kind of location-data analysis to better understand their customers, as well as more clearly understand which ads, channels and creatives are most effective in driving store visits.
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Author: Greg Sterling