Local Restaurants Can Thrive in Mall Food Courts

BY Courtney Huckabay
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QSR Magazine reports some quick-​service restaurants aren’t just surviving, they’re thriving thanks to a delicate balance of operations, product offering, and marketing that can uplift a failing quick-​serve and bring some success back to mall food courts. Quick-​service restaurants need to commit to new marketing channels that align with consumer behaviors.

"Food court patrons spend time outside of the mall, yet most brands do nothing to engage with them beyond the four walls. Attracting these guests for an additional visit, and staying top of mind for next time would do wonders to increase traffic."

Local restaurants could consider expanding in mall food courts. And the ones already there should re-​think how they appeal to Frequent Mall Shoppers. They're like the "regulars" that fine dining establishments rely on. The new AudienceSCAN survey revealed 8% of Americans shop at retail stores, a mall or shopping center three to four times per week! And another 4.3% shop five or more times a week!

Here are three avenues Joseph Szala recommends to take the reigns on realizing success in the highly competitive mall food court space:

Socialize like a human.

"Quick-​service brands have to start acting like a human on social to get traction. Interact and engage with people’s posts. Offer something fun and unexpected to the narrative. Post things for the fans, not just the brand. And, yes, once you’ve built a rapport, you can post a deal or promo. At least now, it will be coming from a friend."

Food-​court restaurants can court Frequent Mall Shoppers through Facebook and YouTube. The new AudienceSCAN data showed 82% of Frequent Mall Shoppers are on Facebook and 60% are active on YouTube.

Build loyalty through rewards.

"Bring loyalty and rewards to them where they spend the most time: on their phones. Consumers aren’t just looking for a new way to order, which is what most brands push from the start. That should come later down the consumer journey. What they want is a way to collect points and engage with brands on a deeper level; a level frequent buyers deserve."

Let customers know their favorite restaurants are in the mall via the phone! The new AudienceSCAN research reports 52% of Frequent Mall Shoppers took action after getting mobile smartphone app ads or text message ads in the past month.

Bring the food to them.

"Brands inside the food court are positioned well to leverage the power of third party delivery. With some simple number crunching and product mix evaluation, a quick-​service restaurant can open a new line of revenue that extends the brand outside the mall. By utilizing new technology that aligns with consumer behaviors, mall food court quick-​service restaurant can take a more proactive approach to thriving and succeeding in this space."

Frequent Mall Shoppers are ordering food from their phones anyway, so they might as well be getting it from the mall! The new AudienceSCAN survey showed 31% ordered food from mobile devices in the past six months.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.