How Fast Food Restaurants are Influencing Your Spending Habits

by Nick

When you frequent your favorite fast food joint, you likely have your tried-and-true order in mind. But have you noticed lately that your bill seems to be creeping higher than expected? There’s a sneaky tactic at play, and it might be happening right under your nose.

Digital ordering kiosks have been popping up in fast food chains across the board, and they’re not just there for convenience. These touch-screen devices are strategically designed to boost sales, and they’re doing a pretty effective job at it.


Take Shake Shack, for instance. With nearly all of its 300 U.S. locations equipped with digital kiosks, the chain has reported a significant surge in sales. According to Shake Shack’s Chief Financial Officer Katie Fogertey, these kiosks now account for over half of in-restaurant orders, making them the most lucrative sales channel for the company.


And it’s not just Shake Shack jumping on the kiosk bandwagon. Burger King, under parent company Restaurant Brands International, is also eyeing an expansion of its kiosk offerings after a successful pilot program. Even Yum! Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, is prioritizing kiosks as the primary mode of customer ordering.


So, how exactly do these digital kiosks convince you to spend more? Firstly, they streamline the ordering process, making it quicker and easier for customers to place their orders. But beyond efficiency, these kiosks are experts at upselling.


Shake Shack’s CEO Randy Garutti revealed that customers ordering via kiosks tend to spend nearly 10% more on average compared to traditional cashier orders. How? Well, those vibrant food images and enticing descriptions on the kiosk screens tempt customers to add extra items, opt for pricier customizations, or upgrade to larger meal sizes.

Moreover, these kiosks are adept at suggesting menu items based on factors like time of day, season, and even weather conditions. Feeling the heat on a summer day? The kiosk might just tempt you with an icy cold beverage.

Unlike human cashiers who are often pressed for time, these automated kiosks have the luxury of offering personalized recommendations and allowing customers ample time to explore the menu and consider their options. Plus, they can seamlessly integrate with loyalty apps, gathering data to tailor suggestions even further.

In essence, while you might think you’re just placing a quick order, these digital kiosks are quietly nudging you to indulge a little more, ultimately padding the bottom line for fast food chains. So, next time you find yourself tempted by those colorful screens, remember: convenience comes at a cost, and sometimes, it’s a little more than you bargained for.


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