For Restaurants, Digital Channels Are Menu Must-Haves

The restaurant industry has gradually changed to meet customer expectations for convenient, seamless experiences. Then the pandemic hit, and this gradual shift drastically accelerated. Restaurants of all types had to embrace delivery and takeout because health concerns and lockdowns made sit-down dining impossible or undesirable. Digital sales channels, therefore, became essential to restaurants. Even as the worst of the pandemic winds down, the changes it wrought on restaurants will remain. Consumers are more accustomed to and desire digital methods when deciding where to eat and how to order and pay for meals than before the pandemic. The shift has been so profound that digital ordering and payment options are now central to the restaurant industry. In the July edition of the “Order To Eat Tracker®,” PYMNTS explores how consumers’ digital preferences are changing the restaurant industry. Around the Order to Eat Space According to a report from DoorDash, delivery and takeout are as popular as ever. The report found that, compared to 2021, 86% of consumers reported ordering takeout or pickup as much or more this year. For delivery, the share dropped slightly to 83%. The report also found that digital ordering methods were becoming more popular, with the share of consumers using delivery apps, such as DoorDash or Uber Eats, rising from 15% to 24%. A similar rise occurred in the use of restaurant websites, while the portion of consumers calling in an order dropped from 29% to 10%. As digital ordering becomes more popular, restaurants are experimenting with novel ordering methods. Taco Bell, for example, recently opened a location in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, that overhauled the drive-thru experience. Called Taco Bell Defy, this Taco Bell’s drive-thru has four lanes, two stories and vertical lifts to bring orders from the kitchen to the customers waiting below. The goal is to decrease service times and provide customers with a seamless, convenient ordering experience. For more on these and other stories, visit the Tracker’s News and Trends section. Pizza Guys on Why Digital Ordering Is No Longer Just an ‘Option’ With more consumers seeking out online ordering and payment methods, digital channels have gone from being optional to mandatory for restaurants, according to Michael Morgan, vice president of operations at Pizza Guys. In this month’s Feature Story, Morgan explains how his company has navigated this digital transformation and how Pizza Guys is meeting customer expectations through its ordering and payment options. Payment and Ordering Options Are Key to Customer Satisfaction The disruptions caused by the pandemic and the overall growth of technology are transforming the restaurant industry. Although the pandemic has impacted all aspects of the restaurant experience, it has affected the ordering and payment experience in particular. Digital ordering, for example, is now immensely popular, with 57% of consumers preferring to order takeout or delivery through a digital app. In terms of payments, a growing number of consumers prefer a contactless or digital payment method to a physical one. Shifts like these mean that restaurants must embrace digital solutions to meet customer expectations. This month’s PYMNTS Intelligence explores how a restaurant’s payment and ordering methods are key to customer satisfaction.

91% of viewers like streaming aggregation, survey says

By Masha Abarinova As consumers ramp up their number of streaming services, discussion crops up about how to aggregate those apps into one place. Most consumers would agree video aggregation enhances the viewing experience, according to new data from Hub Entertainment Research. In fact, 91% of respondents think having access to multiple services via a single device improves the viewing experience – with over half of consumers (52%) saying aggregation makes the experience “a lot” better. Hub surveyed in June over 1,600 U.S. consumers – age 16-74 – who have broadband at home and watch at least one hour of TV per week. The survey went on to say a majority of pay TV users (70%) who access streaming services from their set tops feel they’re getting “excellent” or “good” value from their subscription. Not only are consumers saying video aggregators are simple to navigate across, but they also value having a single bill for all their apps. OTT bundling is a key source of revenue for pay TV and other home service providers, recent Parks Associates data shows. The average number of streaming apps seems to be continuously rising. An April Hub study indicated consumers generally need at least four streaming options before they’re satisfied with their TV needs. And recent TiVo data has pegged the number of streaming services to average at around nine apps per user. “There’s no question that the golden age of streaming has made TV more fun for consumers,” stated Jon Giegengack, principal at Hub and one of the study authors. “But it’s no fun trying to get the most out of that content when it’s spread across so many providers.” Platforms have been trying to solve the problem of an overly fragmented streaming landscape. Plex in April launched a one-stop navigation tool, allowing users to easily keep track of all their paid and free streaming services. MyBundle.TV last month integrated billing for Sling TV customers onto its platform. Speaking of Sling TV, Evoca in May unveiled an enhanced programming bundle – combining Evoca’s local content with Sling’s national channels. “Aggregators enable viewers to get something playing on the screen with as few clicks as possible,” Giegengack continued. “This is a big opportunity for pay TV operators to reclaim their traditional role – only this time instead of bundling networks, they’re bundling platforms.” Choosing a streaming bundle offers consumers a way to cut costs on services. Hub noted that viewers’ estimate of what they consider a “reasonable” amount to spend on TV has fallen in the past couple of years. Respondents in 2022, for instance, think spending $68 per year on TV content is “reasonable” (a decrease from $73 annually in 2021). Interestingly, Hub data shows consumers in 2022 are actually spending on average $82 per year on TV. With such costs, viewers might feel compelled to adopt more ad-supported streaming services, as suggested by Comscore’s 2022 State of Streaming analysis. But Hub found viewers prefer to have a choice between ad-free and ad-supported tiers, as they have similar “value” ratings. About 76% of HBO Max users, for example, think the platform’s ad-supported version is of “good” or “excellent” value – only slightly higher than user satisfaction for HBO Max’s ad-free plan (75%). The results for HBO Max fall in line with recent Whip Media data, in which 85% of respondents said they were satisfied with the value the service provides. Out of the data from five streaming services (HBO Max, Discovery+, Hulu, Peacock and Paramount+), Peacock had the highest discrepancy in value ratings: 69% for ad-supported vs. 76% for its ad-free tier.

TikTok Is Growing Up, and So Are Its Users

More millennials are finding their way to the Gen Z-dominated app ByScott Nover Key Insights: TikTok generated “the most downloads for any app ever in a quarter” in Q1 2020. Buyers say TikTok doesn’t allow for much targeting, so an expanded user base presents some challenges. first made a splash in The New York Times in August 2016, months before Donald Trump’s presidency began and years before the Covid-19 pandemic was even a glimmer on the horizon. At the time, Alex Zhu, co-founder of the Chinese app for user-generated short-form music videos, told the Times that China’s “closed environment” was tough to break into—and he much preferred the American teen demographic, which he called a “golden audience.” It was also two years before merged with TikTok, forming the modern version of the app used by millions around the world every day. In just a few short years, TikTok’s popularity exploded among young people in America and around the world. But the coronavirus pandemic has expanded its user base, moving it further away from the teen contingent it’s long offered to advertisers. Quarantine has been good for business TikTok does not release user data, but outside firms that analyze the platform’s audience report its user base has grown substantially amid the pandemic. Among U.S. users 18 and older, TikTok brought in 22.2 million mobile unique visitors in January, 23.2 million in February and 28.8 million in March. In April, that number skyrocketed to 39.2 million—three times the 12.6 million who used the app last April, according to the most recent Comscore data provided to Adweek. TikTok beat records for mobile downloads, according to the app analytics firm Sensor Tower, which found that in the first quarter of 2020, the platform “generated the most downloads for any app ever in a quarter,” with more than 315 million installs globally across the App Store and Google Play. But, TikTok’s growth in the U.S. during quarantine has also come with a caveat: New data shows that millennials are making up a greater share of TikTok’s user base than ever before. Why? Because, like the American teens of Zhu’s original target demo, many older people are finding they have extra time on their hands. According to Comscore, which only tracks users 18 and over, the percentage of U.S.-based TikTok users age 18-24 fell from 41.1% in January to 35.3% in April, a 5.8% drop. During that same time period, the share of 25- to 34-year-olds rose from 22.4% to 27.4%, and the 35-44 demographic grew from 13.9% to 17.1%. It’s not that younger people aren’t still a huge part of TikTok’s business—between January and April, the 18-24 demo grew from 9 million to nearly 14 million unique visitors—it’s just that the millennial age brackets are growing at a faster rate during quarantine. There were fewer than 5 million Americans ages 25-34 on the app in January. In April, there were nearly 11 million. Meanwhile, older demographics (45-54 and 60+) saw mostly stable growth, but 55-64 year olds dropped off by 2% of TikTok’s composition between January and April. Those who work closely with TikTok’s platform told Adweek they have noticed the growth in non-teen demographics. “Not only are people using it more because it’s fresh, but because people now actually have time to sit and watch things on their phone and have time left to create content,” said Alex Devlin, a WME talent agent who represents TikTok influencers including Addison Rae. “People are trapped inside their homes all day with their families, so this gives them something fun to do together.” More than 30 million people have lost their jobs due to the economic scourge wrought by the pandemic, and many more are working from home during this time. Without commuting times and supervisors peering over shoulders at screens, many people have the time and space to explore TikTok. Will more millennials mean fewer Gen Z users? Laura Perez, a spokesperson for TikTok, declined to discuss how its audience is changing, but noted that users may be turning to the platform for “positivity and levity.” “There is a lot of inspiring, uplifting and educational content coming from users of all ages, including grandparents, college students, parents and families,” Perez said. “We’re seeing multiple generations in families creating videos together as bonding time while they’re all at home together.” Some media buyers and marketers don’t know what to make of TikTok’s estimated change in demographic, what it means for the long term, and if this growth could ultimately present obstacles for the platform. “It might be the best thing [for the platform] because they’re getting such a broader audience, but millennials might kill TikTok for Gen Z—because as soon as millennials get onboard, Gen Z is over it,” said Melanie Nelson, associate director at The Media Kitchen, a media planning and buying agency. Nelson said it’ll be interesting to see how TikTok keeps both audiences engaged, noting that Instagram weathered a similar challenge particularly well as its audience has expanded. Alessandro Bogliari, founder and CEO of The Influencer Marketing Factory, agreed that shifting demographics can have tenuous effects on the health of the platform as it matures. “The only thing I’m sometimes afraid of is that Gen Z might not find it cool anymore and might abandon it,” he said. “If millennials and Gen X and boomers get on, is this going to transform it into Facebook?” Once upon a time, he said, he used Facebook for everything—now, he mainly uses it for birthdays. He also feels the platform is oversaturated with new creators, but thinks the surge of content will level off when quarantine lifts. The influx of non-teen users also makes TikTok a more challenging place for marketers to target their ads and influencer campaigns. “Targeting is still fairly limited on TikTok, so as the audience becomes more diverse, you can open yourself up to a lot of waste,” Nelson said. “We’ve also seen TikTok increase their prices pretty substantially quarter over quarter, which makes total sense.

Words To Live By

“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” – Norman Vincent Peale #wordstoliveby #brooklyn #newyork #community #communitydinner

Buffalo NY – JOBCADE

Stepped in for Ofo Ezeugwu at the Buffalo JobCade while he was handling business in NYC! 💪🏾💯

Looking for an apartment? This startup has you covered

Marabia Smith Yahoo Finance September 15, 2019 Hunting for a new apartment can always be a time consuming, expensive, and anxiety-driven process for potential new renters. That’s why this East Coast startup wants to put those on the hunt for a place to live in charge. WhoseYourLandlord (WYL) is a web-based service that allows renters to write and post reviews about their landlord, property managers, and even the building itself. The company was launched to help folks like college students, millennials, and young professionals look for an apartment. “We look at your financial picture, understanding how to get yourself ready to go before looking to rent,” said Ofo Ezeugwu, WYL Founder and CEO, who along with his brother Andre Ezeugwu, WYL’s director of partnerships, appeared on Yahoo Finance’s On The Move to discuss how WYL helps potential renters. “We help you with understanding how to best engage with your roommates, landlords [and] what agencies to reach out to should any issues happen.” WYL sells a “Renter Commandments” handbook to provide advice and other rental insights to those seeking a place to live. The book is offered in different languages such as English, Spanish and Russian. A Mandarin version is in the works. The startup also operates various corporate housing workshops. “Our goal is to follow the entire arc of the rental journey,” said Ofo. WYL also has a home provider platform, where it allows landlords to better assess the rental market and be able to know where to navigate and how to better attract renters. The company works with other firms and nonprofits such as SweetGreen and AmeriCorps, to provide their employees and members with handbooks and housing literacy data. The company has also partnered with Warren Buffett’s company Berkadia to process data it has collected, to help improve its product software and further build WYL’s home provider platform. “Big companies like Warren Buffett see the value in what we provide and they want to help us grow, and obviously, in turn, help themselves grow as well,” said Andre. Marabia Smith is a producer for Yahoo Finance On the Move.

U2 Launching New Album Using Alexa?!

By: Radio Ink The world of digital continues to edge in on radio’s space. iHeartMedia has really taken advantage of the company’s scale in recent years by teaming with artists and launching their new songs – and playing the daylights out of them – sometimes for an entire day at the top of every hour. Now, it’s Jeff Bezos’ team taking advantage of Amazon’s scale, and using Alexa to do the same for U2. U2 is releasing its new album called Songs of Experience this Friday. Amazon is calling what happens today through that launch, ‘ a new kind of radio.’ Historical music, live performances, interviews and exclusive new content will take place on Amazon starting tonight at 6 p.m. EST and will be available to Amazon Music account holders via multiple platforms. Amazon Prime members and Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers can access the special programming through Alexa by saying, “Alexa, play The U2 Experience.” An Amazon press release said, “The U2 Experience” features a chronology of the band’s career, including commentary surrounding the significance behind iconic songs and legendary stories from the road, as told through live broadcast interviews. Some of the band’s biggest hits are also included, along with live recordings of songs from “The Joshua Tree” and “Songs of Experience,” recorded during “The Joshua Tree Tour 2017.” Amazon Music’s global head of programming Alex Luke interviewed band members during their tour in Sao Paolo, Brazil this Fall.