It’s no surprise that brands in the QSR category face a constant threat of falling into the “Sea of Sameness” when it comes to social content and digital media activations. For example, what restaurant did the below chicken sandwich come from? Popeyes, Chick-fil-A, or Raising Canes?
The answer is none of them. This image of a KFC fried chicken sandwich doesn’t tell us anything about their brand. It just confirms the obvious that they sell chicken sandwiches.
Another key similarity among QSR brands is the claim of taste as their differentiator. Considering you can’t taste a sandwich on your screen, it’s critical for those in the category to find more unique ways to stand out and engage with consumers.
Where Brand Content Meets Culture
CultureTap is Empower’s trend identification platform that helps brands participate in moments that matter. Unlike social listening tools, CultureTap isolates relevant cultural, category, brand, or competitive trends so smart marketers can act before it is too late.
Aligning brand content with culture is a solid way to ensure relevancy and uniqueness among competitors. Through CultureTap, we have compiled three ways that your QSR brand can stay relevant in 2022.
1. Pop Culture Competency
Posting memes or pop culture-related content earns an engagement rate that is seven times higher compared to those brands that ignored on-the-rise content. In fact, in the QSR category, 100 percent of the top 20 posts during the last 180 days are memes. For a bit of inspiration, here are a few favorites:
If memes are not a good fit for your brand, that doesn’t mean you have to give up on connecting to culture. QSRs are quickly realizing the star power behind celebrity and name/image/likeness (NIL) partnerships. From drag queens to NBA athletes, celebrity-themed meal mentions have steadily increased over the past two years, leveraging those campaigns to connect with different audiences. Collegiate teams and athletes are another in-demand partnership thanks to the NCAA’s new rules on NIL. Cane’s, Outback Steakhouse, and Arby’s are a few brands already touting their NIL partnerships–and they are not shy about it. Said brands almost immediately started sharing these new ambassadors on their social media platforms.
2. Menu Hacks
Search queries for “Menu Hack” are skyrocketing, recording a 3,200 percent increase in February 2022. Menu hacks serve as a secret menu and provide an audience with a feeling of exclusivity, as if the brand is sharing something top secret. It is an easy tactic to encourage the viewer to try the menu hack. An added bonus is when consumers order the hack, then post about and review their experience. Not only is it free promotion, but it is also content that may reach people who are not in the target audience or may not follow the brand’s social media accounts. McDonald’s encouraged this with its own sponsored hashtag #McdonaldsHacks (earning 7.9+B views), while KFC posted a “Secret Menu” on its app and partnered with influencers to showcase #KFCSecretMenuHacks.
KFC App’s Secret Menu
3. Marketing More Than Just the Menu
Limited-edition merchandise is a strong strategy, as merch mentions within the food service category noticed a 56 percent increase from 2020 to 2021. Y2D data indicates merch mentions are on track for another increase, adding to the value of these collaborations.
Partnering with apparel and accessory brands generates strong engagement with merch content, earning between 1,200 percent to 16,900 percent more engagements on average. Collaborations are valuable and, when done correctly, can easily trigger traction on content feeds.
White Castle & PSD Underwear Collaboration
Arby’s Curly Fry & Crinkle Fry Flavored Vodkas–Collaborating with Tattersail Distilling & Surdyk’s Liquor
Food for Thought
While trends are invaluable to a social media strategy, brands cannot count on one style of content. It is important to find a groove with content to fit your brand’s personality. Viewers need unique consistency with the added ingredients of realness and humor.
Worried you are going to leave your consumers hungry? Reach out to us to learn how CultureTap can help your brand become more appetizing to consumers.