Sonic’s consumer engagement play: touch-screen tech at the drive-in

Like all marketers, Sonic is grappling with how to utilize technology. For Sonic the challenge is to wow customers and make them continue to return to its fast food restaurants — and to do it in a way that makes sense for a classic burgers and shakes drive-in chain.

The 60-year-old brand has embarked on a project to install touchscreen displays at all of its 3,500-plus restaurants across the country. The drive-in screen tech has allowed Sonic to maximize the 11 minutes on average a customer spends on its property, far longer than most fast-food joints. The idea is the systems will allow for customized messages to consumers — and an opportunity for Sonic to capture e-mails for future marketing. Sonic has said the “point of personalized” feature drives higher order size.

“It’s pretty powerful and I don’t think it will allow any fast-food chain to catch up to in 10 years because it is so incredibly unique to our brand,” Sonic director of national marketing Sarah Beddoe said at the Digiday Content Marketing Summit yesterday in Half Moon Bay, California.

Watch the three-minute clip below for Sonic’s thinking behind the initiative.
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