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How to increase restaurant sales with three key spend trends

Across the restaurant industry, marketers face a unique set of challenges as customers rapidly change their dining and meal prep habits. Restaurants looking to drive near-term sales need to understand how consumer behavior is shifting and where spend is coming back. By analyzing purchase data for our recent State of Spend report, Cardlytics identified key spend trends to help restaurant marketers track early signs of recovery and take action to drive sales. Here are three must-know highlights:

Appetite for delivery grows faster than ever

Cardlytics’ purchase insights show that demand for delivery is now higher than it was at the start of the shutdown. Consumers increasingly rely on these convenient, app-based services to access a wide variety of menus. In fact, spend with third-party restaurant delivery now is up 119.2% compared to this time last year—a 92.6 percentage point increase from mid-March. Even though customers are adding their favorite dining spots back to their weekly menus and placing orders directly with restaurants, their third-party delivery spend shows no signs of tapering off.

Rebuild relationships with customers who have turned to delivery

As restaurants reopen locations and expand their carryout options, they have the added challenge of reestablishing direct relationships with customers who now rely on third-party delivery. Using purchase insights, Cardlytics’ ad platform targets customers who have switched to delivery and engages them with offers that influence their next dining occasion.

For those interested in reading more on how convenience has impacted the rise of delivery, check out this Nation’s Restaurant News article

Average check size is on the rise

Now more than ever, every purchase counts. Despite the fact that overall restaurant sales remain down, the average restaurant check is on the rise. This suggests customers are purchasing more meals for the whole family. Across all restaurant categories, order values are now up significantly compared to this time last year—especially for categories with popular to-go options.

Note, full-service restaurants have seen a more modest 4% increase in order value – likely due to limits on in-restaurant dining and reduced alcohol sales.

Customers shift to contactless

As customers remain cautious about person-to-person contact, restaurants may want to consider alternatives to cash payments and paper coupons.

One of our clients, a quick-service restaurant chain, recognized consumer behavior was shifting away from these physical touchpoints amid concerns about COVID-19. They sought a marketing solution that aligned with consumers’ growing adoption of card-based payment methods and provided new incentives to attract customers to their restaurants.

With an audience of over 150M US bank customers and insight into 1 out of every 2 US card swipes, Cardlytics had the scale and insights to engage the restaurant chain’s most likely customers. Through targeted offers in banks’ digital channels, we helped give their customers a reason to order without the use of a paper coupon. Reporting from their recent campaign showed that for every dollar spent, Cardlytics drove an additional $4.00 in incremental return. With our pay-for-performance model, our campaigns minimize risk by driving positive cashflow with no upfront costs.

Turn insights into action

As customers establish new buying habits, marketers need to act quickly to retain their customers and drive sales. Cardlytics is uniquely positioned to help restaurants reach their most likely guests. Precisely targeted offers engage customers in their banks’ digital channels and influence their next dining occasion—ultimately driving incremental sales and growing market share. Contact us today for an analysis and campaign strategy customized for your brand.

These insights were recently featured in our State of Spend report, which follows important shifts in consumer spend and track early signs of recovery. Download our latest State of Spend Report today and be sure to check back for the next issue.


Analysis in this report is based on data derived from the Cardlytics platform between March 5th and June 17th. While analysis is representative of purchase behavior, it does not include every customer or every financial institution on the Cardlytics platform.

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