Most of us are now familiar with user-generated content, and how the 'wisdom of crowds' to a large extent determines our 'likes' and 'dislikes' of brand initiatives, products and services. A unique restaurant chain is building on that premise to actually allow customers to assist in the marketing of their fast-food eateries.
4Food, a new restaurant chain ready to launch in various locations throughout New York City is taking social media marketing to yet another level. Not only can guests check-in via Foursquare, order their food using their iPads, create commercials via YouTube, post on Facebook and Twitter - they also have the option of naming and branding their own burger.
The customer's branded burgers and commercials are then featured on a 240-square foot jumbo media screen wall at the restaurant that also streams from Foursquare for check-ins. Then with each sale of one of these user-generated burgers, the burger's originator receives a 25-cent credit on his account. In this way, the more savvy customers that come up with the best burger iterations are motivated financially to return often with bigger, better and juicier ideas.
"We anticipated systems that would reduce the cost of marketing and allow the consumers to do the marketing themselves," said Adam Kidron, co-founder of the restaurant.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, restaurant consultant Darren Tristano saw this concept as a gimmicky way to do marketing. He thinks it will appeal only to a younger demographic and says, "I'm not sure it will do anything more than make the time you spend there a little more entertaining.... Consumers are going to a restaurant less for the gimmicks and more for the quality of the good."
I don't agree. While self-marketing might become the social media tactic du jour, I think customers are looking for new ways to engage with the restaurants and bars they frequent. This is definitely one of the major reasons Foursquare and Gowalla and their game-like check-in component has been the major impetus in making them scale faster than any of their competitors.
Also, the crowdsourcing of menu planning is likely to result in better burgers because its been run through a democratic selection process. With thousands of different combinations submitted and then voted upon by customers, certainly the best ones are going to become the most popular. It's the old Digg model being applied to hamburgers versus news content.
With the first location opening July 6 on 40th Street and Madison Avenue, others are anticipated for Union Square, Columbus Circle, with five additional locations in Manhattan, and one each in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.
The owners are in the process of hiring 60 people. They said about half the applicants at job fairs found out about 4food through social media Web sites. An average meal will cost $12 to $13. In addition to burgers, the restaurants will offer breakfast, sides and tea-time snacks.
Their signature product is the W(hole)burger™a donut shaped, beef, lamb, pork, turkey, veggie, salmon or egg patty-balanced (made whole) by one of 25 ethnically diverse Veggiescoop centers, each with unique nutritional attributes.They make Skewers with holes in the middle of the patties, which when accompanied by Veggiescoop sides, become the perfect bun-less, low-carb, sharing food.
In additional to social media, what differentiates 4Food from other 'fast food' establishments is the use of 'fresh ingredients,' or what the company calls "de-junking fast food," while "revolutionizing counter culture, in real-time."