Sonic, the American drive-in fast-food chain, is one of the few businesses that have thrived during the restrictions of the pandemic. The restaurant’s unique format lends itself to success when dine-in is less popular, jumping from the 22nd most popular chain to the 5th in a matter of weeks according to foot traffic metrics captured by Ubermedia.
Sonic’s unique format lends itself to success when dine-in is less popular. How can Sonic understand who their new customers are and retain that audience as the economy moves back to a new normal?
To understand that, we must understand:
With PersonaLive, we can segment store visitors captured from the mobile movement data to build a ‘Sonic Customer Profile’. This profile provides insights into the types of people visiting Sonic locations prior to stay-at-home orders. In other words, this is the restaurant’s original customer base.
By matching the Sonic visitation data with Geosocial segments, we immediately see ranked patterns emerge:
Now that we know Sonic’s original customer profile, how has their customer base changed since stay-at-home orders were given? Are they getting more of the same customer or a totally new audience?
We don’t see a heavy indication of change in the top five segments. The people coming to Sonic before COVID continue to go to Sonic afterwards.
Therefore, to the extent that Sonic is already focusing on their core segments in site selection, local marketing, and broad advertising, they should continue to nurture these segments in the same way.
When we look at the customer segments with the greatest change, a clear story emerges; one that is nearly diametrically opposite of their Georgia core customer:
So, how can Sonic capture and retain their newly found audience? We’ll now discuss possible strategies informed by these new insights.
Sonic has an opportunity to benefit from changing consumer behavior. Sonic’s meteoric rise in popularity during COVID is a great test case for how a brand can stand to benefit from rapidly changing consumer behavior. Using PersonaLive, it is possible to capture the nuanced changes in customer profile and magnify that opportunity by designing strategies around customer interests.