I am excited by what I have read about 4Food, posts like this from uncluttered white spaces, a soon-to-be new restaurant in New York City with the motto of “de-junking fast food”. It is still 32 days away from opening but it is already generating buzz around its unique use of social media and crowdsourcing. This place will be fun to visit.
I reached out to the 4Food team to learn some more, read on.
Q. You are exploring some very cool uses of social media, social business. What prompted you to begin down this path?
A. The idea was to incentivize our customers to market their own products in a way that was relevant to them so that they would develop equity in the brand. The money saved on marketing helps us provide better quality ingredients while keeping our prices reasonable [The basic W(hole) burger is $5].
Q. Your use of crowdsourcing to generate the menu is a very creative idea, how did you come up with this?
A. See the founder story animation. Once I’d punched the center from the patty (to enable it to cook “quickly & evenly”) I had to find something to do with it with the hole. I had the idea to fill it with a vegetables scoop in Nobu (feasting). I discovered that scoops changed the taste profile of a burger like toppings transform pizza, and that a burger could be further customized by choice of cheese, slice, bun and condiment. Given that there are more than 64 million ways to build a W(hole)burger, it seemed logical that customers might want to name their own. So we give each new build an SKU and incentivize customers to market their burgers inside and outside 4food by paying $0.25 each time one of their builds is purchased. Best selling burgers feature on the Buildboard chart.
Q. What are the early results of this effort?
A. People we don’t know and that have never sampled 4food have been clamoring to create and name their own burgers. More than 80% of people who register complete a 4food profile, which is extraordinary.
Q. Are there others that you are learning from, modeling your efforts with?
A. We are primarily learning from our own mistakes because we’re not aware of any other restaurant that uses social network marketing or crowdsourcing in this way.
Q. What is your thinking on the ROI of these efforts?
A. Our intent is that ROI from our technologies will be expressed in:
- Low cost viral customer acquisition
- Repeat business
- Reduced customer churn
- Lower marketing costs
4food has also invested in nutrition tools and an in-store Community Kitchen Commissary, from which we expect a social return in empowerment and improved health.
Q. What tools are you using as part of your efforts?
A. We leverage Facebook and Twitter, and have developed a suite of tools [“We Know You Better”] that enable Users to create smart online profiles [“4food Nutritional DNA”] and receive smart recommendations, by profile, by day, by time of day. This tool set also groups Users by diet (by DNA), and facilitates automatic promotion of User builds to the most relevant groups.
Regarding social media tools, we’re mostly using Tweetdeck but also use standard applications such as Google Alerts, PostRank and FriendFeed, but mostly rely on custom software to generate analytics and prioritize blog posts and bloggers and their relevance to 4food.
Q. Have you looked at doing anything interesting with Foursquare checkins, giving the Mayors Burger special placement or something else fun and cool?
A. FourSquare – there will definitely be a deep integration. We understand the power of leveraging the platform and engaging with that community. We don’t have any specifics to share right now, but we’re looking at unique and interesting ways to integrate 4Food. In addition, we display 4food-foursquare check-ins on our 210 sq ft media wall throughout the day.
Q. What has surprised you the most about the use of crowdsourcing menu ideas?
A. It is early days but the differentiation is startling. Our system works that two people can build the same burger and marketing it competitively using different names/messaging, so we expected to see quite a lot of beef patty + brioche + chili + BBQ etc… but that has not happened (yet). We also use crowdsourcing to generate real time product purchase information to guide the replacement and introduction of new scoops on New Scoop Tuesdays!
Q. What is the coolest burger idea you have seen so far?
A. We really don’t want to pick and choose as in this case cool is defined by the community – so the coolest build will be the one at the top of the Buildboard chart!
Q. Will you deliver?
A. Yes, starting 2-3 months after launch – once we are certain we have our in-store service optimized. Meanwhile we have developed a very cool social ordering platform that allows users to invite friend to join them for a “FEAST” at 4food or (after 2-3 months) to be delivered directly to their office or home.