Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Score big with personalisation: powering sports fever in the fast food industry

By Harry Hanson-Smith, RVP at Dynamic Yield by Mastercard

In 2024, the market size of the takeaway and fast-food restaurant industry in the UK is £22.4 billion. As the summer heats up and sporting events captivate fans across the UK, fast food restaurants have a golden opportunity to score big through the power of personalisation. 

Mintel reports that 63% of UK Brits are expected to follow one or more sports during 2024 with major events reaching more than three in five adults. Leveraging data-driven technologies, fast food chains can create unique, tailored experiences that resonate deeply with sports enthusiasts, driving engagement and boosting loyalty. Most sports fans have a strong emotional connection with their team and marketers using the right strategies can further strengthen this bond. Consumers who have an emotional connection with a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value than those who are only satisfied.

Here’s how personalisation can transform the fast-food arena during major sporting events.

Leveraging data-driven personalisation

Restaurants can utilise data-driven personalisation technology to analyse customer preferences and tailor promotions specifically for major sporting events. By examining past purchase behaviour, favourite menu items, and order times, restaurants can deliver targeted promotions that speak to customers on a one-to-one level. Imagine receiving a special deal on your favourite burger just in time for half time or a combo offer that pairs perfectly with the excitement of a live match. This kind of personalisation ensures promotions are relevant and timely, enhancing customer engagement and driving sales.

These personalised recommendations can also be offered to unknown customers, too, using location-specific data. For example, brands can use dynamic banners to highlight messaging that nudges customers towards trending items based on the restaurant’s product popularity. This could mean promoting refreshing drinks and ice cream on a hot summer day at a cricket match or showcasing hearty, on-the-go meals for fans heading to a football stadium.

The role of AI in enhancing marketing campaigns

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is pivotal. By analysing large datasets, AI can identify patterns and predict which offers will appeal to different customer segments. For example, AI can discern that certain customers prefer to order takeaways during an evening match and automate the delivery of personalised messages promoting match-day meal deals. By optimising the timing and content of promotions, AI ensures high relevance and maximises engagement, turning sports fans into loyal customers. 

Innovative meal combos inspired by competing teams and nations

Marketers already have the technology available to enable them to get creative with themed meal combos inspired by competing teams and nations. For instance, during the Champions League final, a fast food chain might offer a “Champions Feast” menu featuring items like a Spanish tapas platter for Real Madrid or a German bratwurst burger for Dortmund. These themed meals can be promoted based on customers’ past orders, adding a fun and engaging twist to the dining experience.

Real-time data analysis for dynamic promotions

Real-time data analysis is a game-changer allowing restaurants to adjust promotions dynamically based on live match outcomes and evolving customer preferences. Restaurants can instantly offer celebratory deals like discounts on large orders or free delivery. On the other hand, if there’s a surprising loss, they can promote comfort food specials. Continuous monitoring of customer responses and sales data enables restaurants to refine their offers, ensuring they meet the ever-changing interests and moods of their customers…in real time!

Recent advancements in personalisation technology

Recent advancements have significantly enhanced the ability of brands to deliver hyper-targeted promotional messages and discounts. If the customer opts in, enhanced geo-based targeting also allows restaurants to send location-specific offers to customers near stadiums.

Advanced machine learning models can analyse behavioural data to predict which promotions will resonate with individual customers, while improved data integration platforms provide a comprehensive view of customer preferences, enabling precise targeting. Technology is fueling the experience, with recent research suggesting that 73% of diners agree that restaurant technology improves their guest experience.

Predicting customer preferences and anticipating demand

Machine learning can also be leveraged to predict customer preferences and anticipate demand for specific menu items during peak times, such as halftime or post-match celebrations. By analysing historical sales data and behavioural patterns, these algorithms can forecast demand spikes, allowing restaurants to prepare adequately. This ensures sufficient stock and staffing levels, optimising resource management and enhancing customer service during busy periods.

Enhancing loyalty programs with personalisation

Technology can enhance loyalty programs by offering rewards based on past purchasing behaviour and engagement. Fast food chains can tailor rewards such as discounts on favourite items, free upgrades, or exclusive access to new menu items. Mobile apps and online platforms can seamlessly deliver these personalised rewards, encouraging repeat business.

The road to victory

This summer, as sporting events sweep the UK, fast food restaurants have a unique opportunity to score big with fans through personalised promotions and offers. By leveraging data-driven personalisation technology, AI, and real-time data analysis, brands can create unique, engaging experiences that talk to sports enthusiasts. Whether customers are celebrating a victory or seeking solace after a defeat, personalisation ensures every fan gets a winning meal experience.

The brands that focus on personalisation and dynamic engagement at every stage of the conversion funnel will see the greatest impact – creating seamless shopping experiences across devices to strengthen both loyalty and increased sales. The key is to create memorable experiences that demonstrate a deep understanding of the customer’s emotional journey, ensuring engagement long after the final whistle.