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2013 mobile social consumer trends

5 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

Every brand wants to be where its consumers are — that’s always been a fact. But a lot of business leaders are still hesitant to merge into mobile, the place most millennials and Baby Boomers are today — a trend that only seems to be progressing. As the dominant driving force of the market, millennials have gained a bad rep for “always” being on their phones, consumed in a virtual life versus making in-person connections. Though this may not speak to the entire generation, it does give insight into how restaurant & hospitality brands should be positioning themselves to stay top-of-mind with consumers. If that’s not enough to convince you, DigitalCoCo’s most recent Restaurant Mobile Social Consumer Trends industry report might.

Based on mobile/tablet usage trends and habits of more than 86.5 million U.S. mobile social restaurant consumers, 52.2 million of which are tracked in DigitalCoCo’s proprietary Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI), a lot has shifted within the past year. (You can view DCC’s 2012 Restaurant Social Consumer Trends report here.)

Top Mobile-Connected Restaurant Brands by Mobile Actions

For starters, the Top 5 most mobile-connected restaurant brands, determined by mobile actions from the RSMI’s super users — those social restaurant consumers with a minimum of three mobile actions per month with a restaurant brand — are, unsurprisingly, some of the industry’s biggest brands. This year, however, only restaurant brands were measured in this category, as opposed to last year’s addition of food brands, so there was certainly a shift.

1. Taco Bell: Taco Bell has been rocking it on social and mobile. We saw the shift in Q1 2013 when the chain unseated McDonald’s on our RSMI Overall Top 250 brands list. Taco Bell held the top spot for Q2, as well. On mobile, TB has found a way to integrate emerging social mobile app Snapchat into its marketing strategy. As Tressie Liberman, Taco Bell’s Director of Digital & Social Marketing, recently told us at the Foodservice Digital Marketing Summit, the Live Mas brand takes a different approach to digital and mobile strategy by bridging the gap between being a brand and being a friend. With 835,840 Twitter followers and 10 million Facebook fans, it’s safe to say Taco Bell has a lot of friends

2. Starbucks: Starbucks has more than 35 million Facebook fans and more than 4.6 million Twitter followers. Last year, Starbucks was one of the first big food brands to adopt mobile payments using Square. The coffee giant’s branded mobile app includes a coffee directory, a place to bookmark your favorite menu items, and streamlined access to your registered eGifts, rewards, and Starbucks card. Whether umbrella-ing under politics, design, or service, Starbucks is one of those brands that’s always aiming to improve and align the brand with what’s happening in the world. The brand has a forward-thinking pulse, and its seamless mobile integration is no exception.

3. McDonald’s

4. Chipotle

5. Wendy’s

To get the full rundown of the Top Mobile-Connected Restaurant Brands, visit

Top Mobile Platforms Used for Restaurant Search

Based on 86.5 million U.S. mobile social restaurant consumers, the top mobile platforms used for restaurant search on Yelp, Google, Twitter and Facebook are: Android at No. 1 (44.2%), iPhone closely behind at No. 2 (40.8%), iPad at No. 3 (8.9%), Android tablet at No. 4 (3.4%), and Blackberry falling behind at No. 5 (2.1%). It’s important to note that this data has cross-over from consumers using multiple devices across platforms.

This data can be vetted out even further. Based on the same data set of 86.5 million U.S. mobile social restaurant consumers, you may wonder how these super users in the restaurant & hospitality space are using their devices to connect with restaurants. Here are the Top 10 Mobile Social Actions by Restaurant Consumers (super users):

  1. Search for restaurant reviews
  2. Mention restaurant service quality
  3. Search for restaurant menus
  4. Search for restaurant locations
  5. Tweet about a restaurant
  6. Mention restaurant food quality
  7. Refer a restaurant to followers on Twitter
  8. Tweet a picture of food from a restaurant
  9. Post an Instagram photo from a restaurant
  10. Post on Facebook about a restaurant

Big Data Shifts the Restaurant Landscape

Whether you’re interested in operations, marketing or consulting/analyzing the trends of the restaurant and hospitality space, the proprietary Big Data in this industry research has the ability to connect the dots for everyone — because, as with any industry, it’s more than just knowing what your customers are doing, it’s about understanding why they’re doing it.

Preorder the 2013 Mobile Social Consumer Trends report and other industry reports here.

Jessica Bryant is a digital brand analyst for DigitalCoCo and leads research for the Social Insights platform. DigitalCoCo is the leading firm for social consumer research and digital brand development for the restaurant and hospitality business. Bryant is a seasoned researcher with a specialty toward consumer trends and culture shifts in the restaurant business