The Digital Maturity of QSR Brands Revolves Around the Customer

In 2019, a notable change occurred that will continue to influence the success of QSR brands (and all others) moving forward. The Gen Z demographic officially surpassed Baby Boomers and Millennials as the largest population and the spending power of this newly minted demographic — estimated to be somewhere between $29 billion and $143 billion— easily surpassed that of the Millennial generation. (Source)

A recent study also found that smaller Millennial demographic are the generation that dines out most frequently, eating out an average of five times per week. Based on these buying habits and the rise of the Gen Z population, it’s imperative that restaurants adopt mobile ordering and/or invest in reward apps to remain relevant among tech-savvy Millennials and Gen Zers. (Source)

Raised using the internet, Gen Z is placing great pressure on organizations to provide digital experiences that exceed the last best one they had. Equally as important is recognizing your brand experience: how consumers are engaging with and experiencing your brand across digital platforms, must be delightful, consistent, seamless and familiar regardless of channel, need or result. Fundamentally, the way businesses interact with both customers and employees has been transformed in ways that leverage technology. Although deemed a difficult strategy to execute, 67 percent of consumers say they’ll pay more for a better experience, therefore there are great benefits to be reaped if businesses are willing to adapt. 

Mobile ordering applications represent an opportunity for restaurants to always be where their customers are, available whenever their customers want them. Sitting in the palm of their hand, your brand has a plethora of opportunities arise to engage with these users at a very low price point and drive them to make meal purchases while simultaneously delivering on your brand promise. More and more consumers are seeking choices in how and where they order and purchase food, making it essential for brands to offer a mobile experience that meets (and preferably exceeds) their expectations.


Given Bottle Rocket’s expertise in user research, experience design and industry-leading engineering, we’ve learned that the audience has several steadfast expectations from a QSR:

  • The mobile app needs to be easy to use, reflective of the brand itself and offer order ahead and delivery
  • The delivery charge should be free or close to free
  • A loyalty program should exist, be easy to use and offer results in consistent rewards
  • Fast and friendly service must exist throughout the entire experience
  • Ability to track orders and communicate with the QSR during delivery is key
  • Food needs to be hot and ready to eat when it’s delivered or picked up
  • Users want deals, coupons and a value meal program


QSR brands that maintain a frictionless, personalized and contextual mobile app generate more loyal customers that come back time and time again and freely share their experiences with friends and family, bringing in new customers free of charge. These mobile apps deliver both on the core promise of their brand and the core needs of their consumers by offering an experience that makes it simple to order food.

They also go above and beyond and implement creative mobile features linked to cross-channel messaging campaigns that make the customer’s experience enjoyable. All of this, while wrapping the experience in a design system that reflects your brand and connects it to all other channels.

Further, we see brands that maintain a strong mobile presence have a cross-functional team in place across marketing, product and engineering working together on top of a modern mobile marketing stack to understand behavior, orchestrate cross-channel messaging and deliver a personalized experience. Below outlines the modern marketing stack that these brands have in place to drive systematic growth.

When brands implement multiple components of a modern growth stack similar to the image a above, it offers your brand the ability to deliver more fully on the needs and wants of your customers through greater personalization, contextualization and frictionless experiences. Below, we’ve broken down some of the most important characteristics we see in a strong QSR mobile app experience that are often enabled through a modern growth stack.


  • Users can order without signing up for an account
  • Seamless and fast sign-up experience
  • Mobile app uses progressive disclosure when asking for permissions

Store Location

  • Easy to discover locations
  • Actionable and valuable information about the locations present
  • Ability to favorite or save the locations you frequent


  • Seamless and fast ordering experience
  • Order customization
  • Ability to pay with a variety of methods, i.e., Apple Pay
  • Quick access to favorite items and previous orders

Rewards / Loyalty / Promos

  • The value-add of joining the rewards program is apparent and undeniable
  • Ability to track loyalty progress/status
  • Promos to engage with that are appealing
  • Easy redemption
  • Ability to attain lost points/forgotten transactions by scanning or taking a picture


  • App delivers personalized engagement messages with relevant offers
  • Triggered push notifications giving status updates of mobile order and delivery

With audience expectations evolving almost as fast as the technology that drives them, it’s never been more important for QSRs to recognize this shift and adapt accordingly.

Gone are the days of simply delivering a traditional ordering/commerce experience to satisfy your audience. They want more. They expect more. And cutting through a sea of similarity requires more. Blending simple, useful and familiar utility with engaging and impactful experience — fueled by world-class tools for growth, engagement and acquisition — serve as the blueprint for exciting and sustainable QSR growth in the future.

Need help growing your QSR mobile app or want to flesh out your use cases with an expert?