Tag Archives: consumer behavior

No Card Needed: Pay at Panera using your Palm

Have you ever bought something only to realize you did not have your credit/debit card with you? Oops, how embarrassing. But that may be a problem of the past at Panera Bread (at least in St. Louis).

Panera Bread is now testing Amazon’s palm-screening technology at two of its St. Louis restaurants. This means that instead of using cash or charge, just place your palm on the scanner to pay for your meal – and connect to the Panera loyalty program. Panera has long been considered a leader in using technology in its restaurants with more than 2,000 locations and 52 million loyalty members.

While there has been consumer concern about palm-scanning, the positives are that it’s contactless and biometrics give a unique identifier for customers. No two palms (like fingerprints) are identical. Biometric data is also common for consumers who use face ID or fingerprint scanners. Palms provide yet another option.

Amazon’s palm-scanner technology is already being used at its Whole Foods stores in California as well as Amazon Go stores plus a handful of sports arenas such as T-Mobile Park.

How will you pay?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who has used face ID or fingerprint scanning? What has been their experience.
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team list the positive and negative factors for using palm-screening for consumers? (Can do the same poll for Face ID as well.)
  3. What are the positive and negative factors for businesses?
  4. Show Amazon’s information page about the scanning: https://one.amazon.com/how-it-works
  5. Show video about Panera’s use of palm-scanning: https://youtu.be/7ZuYHXuesGA
  6. Also check the site for Amazon one locations in your geography. If there are any, consider having students shop at those locations to try the scanners and get their feedback.
  7. How should Panera explain and market the new scanning?
  8. Have each team develop three different promotional tactics to ease consumer fears about the technology use.

Source:  Panera Break tests Amazon’s palm-scanning technology in St. Louis. (22 March 2023). CNBC.; NPR; The Guardian; The Verge; other news sources.

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The Changing Face of Takeout Restaurants

America’s biggest chain fast-food restaurants are changing how they operate. Responding to the changing consumer behavior during the pandemic, stores are delivering food, but in a new way. Takeout food is now often ordered ahead via online and apps. To respond to the new ordering process, restaurants are eliminating seats and expanding drive-through service.

For example: A new McDonald’s restaurant in Texas has no seats or tables for customers. Instead, a conveyor belt sends food to drivers who have ordered ahead. And it’s not just McDonald’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Taco Bell are also considering new formats including a four-lane drive-through.

Why the new strategy? Building operations around large drive-through and digital orders can reduce staff and make the sites more profitable and efficient. America saw takeout foods rise during the pandemic. In 2022, 85% of all food orders as fast-food locales were taken to-go instead of eaten onsite.

Even Starbucks, long known for being a place to meet and linger, plans to add roughly 400 stores that offer delivery and pickup only. Why? Starbucks cafes are often jammed with orders for pick-up, drive-through, delivery, and in-café, leaving customers unsatisfied with the long lines.

What would you like for dinner tonight?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the changing takeout habits of the students. What do they like? Dislike?
  2. Poll students: Who has switched to mostly takeout? How do they place orders?
  3. Show video of new McDonald’s: https://youtu.be/S-uAsMf1__E
  4. Discuss the importance of environmental scanning: technology trends, social trends, laws and regulations, competitive trends, and economic trends.
  5. What trends are these restaurants responding to?
  6. Have students outline a promotional plan for communicating the value of the new concepts.
  7. Optional: Have students go to a fast-food restaurant (such as McDonald’s) and observe (a) how people order, and (b) how many people eat at the restaurant (versus leaving with the order).

Source:  Haddon H. (28 January 2023). Americans are gobbling up takeout food. Restaurants bet that won’t change. Wall Street Journal.

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Membership Programs: Barnes & Noble

Most of us have a number of memberships and subscriptions. We have Amazon Prime, Walmart+, Netflix, Disney+, ESPN+, Apple, Spotify, and more. We might also have subscription food services plans as well. It just seems like every business is working on a subscription or membership, trying to capture that elusive recurring revenue stream – and of course lock us in to its services to the exclusion of other services.

When will it end? Well, it certainly won’t be ending soon. In fact, more and more services, memberships, and subscriptions are offered every day.

Barnes & Noble has entered the fray as it continues to compete with Amazon and its very popular Amazon Prime program. Of course Barnes & Noble’s membership is focused around book sales only (mostly). The company is now offering a $40-per-year membership program that offers customers 10% discounts, free shipping, a yearly tote bag, and size upgrades on drinks.

If the $39.99 program is too pricey, the company has also launched a lower-tier membership program – for free. That program rewards customers with virtual stamps for every $10 spent; 10 stamps equals a $5 credit towards purchase.

The big benefit to Barnes & Noble is to learn more about its customers so that it can provide more products and services to them. If companies learn what we are buying, marketing programs can be tailored to each the consumers more effectively. Barnes & Noble can incent specific purchases using new information gained from the memberships.

What memberships do you have?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss membership programs. Include subscriptions in the discussion.
  2. Poll students – how many memberships or subscriptions do they have? What is the monthly/yearly cost in total?
  3. Show Barnes & Noble website for membership program: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/membership/
  4. Discuss the various promotional tactics that can be used for launching a new service or product.
  5. Have students come up with tactics and list all the tactics on the white board (ex: billboards, print, direct mail, etc.).
  6. Divide students into groups to work on this exercise.
  7. For Barnes & Noble Premium Membership, have each team select three different tactics to use for promotion. For each tactic, explain why it was selected and how it will be used.
  8. Debrief by putting together the entire suggested lists on the white board. As a final step, have the entire class vote on the top three tactics to use.

Source:  Trachtenberg, J. (17 February 2023). Barnes & Noble takes page from Amazon with $40-a-year membership program. New York Times.

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