Quick-service and fast food restaurants responded to the pandemic in 2020 by leveraging the ease, convenience and comfort that came with their delivery and pick-up options. In 2021, we have already seen the continued desire among consumers for these seamless dining options. Now, as we approach Valentine’s Day, a holiday widely known for celebratory dinners, fast food restaurants and QSRs (quick-service restaurants) are becoming go-to options for pandemic-friendly meals.
With many consumers seeking romantic ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day, while still remaining socially distant, major franchises and chains, like White Castle, Dunkin’, McDonald’s, Papa John’s Pizza and Pizza Hut, have innovated to reach and serve consumers through seamless and innovative delivery and pick-up options.
White Castle Creates Socially Distanced, Drive-In Valentine’s Day Event
For 30 years, White Castle has gone all out with its Valentine’s Day celebrations, revamping their restaurants into formal dining settings – fancy tablecloths and all. This year, however, as a result of COVID-19, White Castle is planning a more pandemic-friendly celebration for customers with “classic drive-ins, complete with carhop service,” across 300 locations. Consumers who book reservations at the White Castle drive-ins will be met by White Castle employees “who will take their order and deliver it to them in their cars.” Customers are encouraged to book their spots through OpenTable or the White Castle mobile app.
White Castle is also asking drive-in attendees to submit shoutouts via social media ahead of the Valentine’s Day event. Select shoutouts will be played on the chain’s custom Spotify playlist, “Slider Lover’s Luv Channel,” which will include this user-generated content (UGC) plus love stories and romantic songs.
Will Papa John’s & Pizza Hut Bring Back Their Annual Heart Shaped Pizza?
Papa John’s and Pizza Hut are known for bringing the romance every year for Valentine’s Day, consistently offering their famous heart-shaped pizzas for customers. Last year, Papa John’s offered its signature heart pizza for a limited time. Customers simply used the “VALENTINE” code to get their hands on the romantic menu item. Similarly, Pizza Hut offered its own take on the heart-shaped pizza, with the option to add additional sweet treats onto the order. This year, as consumers continue to limit their trips outdoors and restrictions on indoor dining remain intact, consumers should expect to see Papa John’s and Pizza Hut begin heavy promotion surrounding their fan-favorite Valentine’s Day offering, which just so happens to be a perfect fit for the socially distanced consumer.
Advertisers Can Pull Inspiration From Dunkin’ & McDonald’s 2020 Valentine’s Day Delivery Service Partnerships
In 2020, both Dunkin’ and McDonald’s leveraged popular delivery services to connect with consumers on Valentine’s Day. Dunkin’ kicked off its Valentine’s Day promotions via a partnership with Grubhub. Calling on The Bachelor superstar Nick Viall for the campaign, Dunkin promoted its special Valentine’s Day treats, including the “Brownie Batter Donut,” “Cupid’s Choice Donut” and more. As a convenient delivery incentive for consumers, Dunkin’ and Grubhub offered a limited deal of a half dozen donuts and delivery, all for free.
McDonald’s delivery service, McDelivery, on the other hand, promoted its new “Palentine’s Day” delivery option for anyone looking to celebrate the holiday with their closest pals. Partnering with DoorDash, McDelivery gave customers $5 off any $15 McDonald’s purchase for a select period of time, offering limited festive menu options like the “Best Buds Bouquet” and “True Love Is Chicken McNuggets.” Customers were asked to order through the DoorDash app, using the LOVEMCD promo code, to redeem the offer. The partnership drew consumer attention to the exclusive offering from the fast food chain, while bringing in additional users to the DoorDash mobile app.
Today, fast food brands looking to stay in the competitive mix for Valentine’s Day meal options should look to previously successful partnerships, like that of Dunkin’ X Grubhub and McDonald’s X DoorDash. Teaming up with widely used delivery services on a day where couples and friends alike are seeking the ease and convenience of meal delivery options poses a strong likelihood of increased customers and brand awareness.
In 2021, many fast food chains and QSRs have already found that the strategies that previously resonated with consumers in 2020 – like safe and seamless delivery and pick-up options – will continue to be in demand throughout the new year. QSRs and fast food restaurants should continue to leverage the customer loyalty they gained during 2020, providing relevant options for consumers’ evolving shopping and dining trends, and making consumers aware of Valentine’s Day promotions early and often this year. Even though this holiday will look different than years past, consumers are still craving connection and comfort, and brands have an opportunity to position themselves as a solution to that need.
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