by: Chris Kane
Nowadays it seems that every business, including restaurants, has their own app.
In Summers of the late 2000’s to mid 2010’s when a brand created their own app, it was a way to open up new doors. It was the new, cool thing to do.
At the time, many restaurateurs and business owners did not understand the separate universe that apps operate in and the intricacies that go along with it. Unfortunately still they don’t.
However, it is not their responsibility to understand it fully. Many business owners need to be focused on doing what they do best, whether that is making delicious, innovative sandwiches or providing outstanding services.
The rapid pace of which technology changes is often overwhelming for those unable or unwilling to invest the time to keep up with learning it.
It is the pace of technological change that is to blame. By they time restaurateurs understand how the app world operates and that app store optimization is actually a thing, consumers have already shifted their focus to the next piece of technology or latest app.
One day it’s cool to have dire wolf. Now, if you’re not riding around on dragons, you’re an afterthought.
Look at social media. Although, social media is not quite a branded app, it does fall under the same technology umbrella for many business owners. It has been preached to these business owners that they need to be on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and indeed that is vital.
However, by the time they figure out the best content to post, to get the most interaction with their customers, they are then told they need to be posting stories on Snapchat, too. You can probably already hear the cries:
“What the hell is a Snapchat story?”.
In the past, apps required an initial investment of money and far more time than a social media profile. For this reason, the branded app has maintained a foothold. But, can a branded app be successful in future?
The only way for an app to succeed long term, is to provide an overwhelming value to the consumer.
That value is going to be contingent on your particular business. If that business is a restaurant, that means a number of items: mobile ordering, a loyalty program with frequent rewards, different ways for customers to interact with your brand, etc.
It is not viable for a brand to expect their app to garner thorough interaction or downloads when they don’t provide enough value back to the consumer.
Ultimately, for an app to reach that threshold of providing superior value, it has to be worthy of maintaining a coveted spot on the first page of a user’s phone screen.
Currently, the ease of creating a branded app is skyrocketing, especially with the prevalence of white label apps. A white label app is a plug and play template that is rebranded for each company to appear that they themselves have made it.
In today’s food industry, it doesn’t take someone with the same means of the Lannister’s to create an app for their brand.
The novelty that once surrounded the launch of an app has worn off and and without providing substantial value to the user, any success will be short lived — just like Joffrey’s reign over the Seven Kingdoms.
Consumers, in particular Millennials and Gen Z, no longer care that a brand has an app.
They need to be immediately convinced that this app will enrich their lives to a point where it deserves to be downloaded and allowed to take up space on their phone and on the phone’s screen.
Essentially, each brand is Jon Snow and they have to convince each user (let’s pretend they are Daenerys) to fight the white walkers with them; it’s a longshot at best.
With the number of new app downloads per month by a majority of individuals being effectively zero, the Summer days are gone, and as they say Westeros, “Winter is coming.”
In the darkest days of this winter to come, very few standalone branded apps will be able to survive.
This is due to the hyper-social world we live in, where time is the most valuable commodity. When a restaurant or another business deploys their own individual app, they are not recognizing the time and effort it takes to download, update and interact with their app.
Most QSR restaurant customers visit 10–20 different restaurants in a given year.
Would these customers download and keep each brand’s app, or prefer to have access to all of them in one app? Navigating numerous apps, many with different interfaces and methods for delivering their proposed value is taxing for the consumer.
Furthermore, Millennials, the largest population segment in the U.S., are infamous for needing instant gratification.
We have seen this before. In the 2000’s, many hotel/flight booking websites launched. Many were successful, many were not. However, after a while people became sick of searching 10 different websites to find the best price.
Not to mention, some websites wouldn’t even list a certain hotel or airline. Enter Trivago and Kayak. Their entire business operates on the premise of convenience.
Sure, they link you back to the original booking sites but they have become extremely successful by collating a fragmented sector. They were the Jon Snow’s of the early-Millennium-web bringing the Northern Kingdoms back together.
“The King in the North! The King in the North!”
Furthermore, numerous app company’s entire business is predicated on getting users to download and interact with their app.
Brands that create an app as an afterthought or bonus are operating in the same environment as these companies that have created apps as the basis to business. It will be difficult to capture more attention in the market than these companies.
This imminent icy purge is going to change the landscape of how restaurants and other business view app creation.
And just like Jon and Daenerys teaming up to consolidate their forces and [hopefully] defeat the Night King, a similar feat may be the answer to this branded app dilemma: consolidate or fail.
Winter is here