Episode Summary

We are living in the golden age of data. Today, marketers have tools that can measure and compare metrics that didn’t even exist 15 years ago. The emergence of data brings up a unique question for modern marketers, how do we bridge the gap between data & creativity? Also, how do you continue to foster that creativity while following a process to ensure that the best ideas are implemented? In this week’s episode of Restaurants Reinvented, we invited Alice Crowder to share her thoughts.
Alice Crowder is the new CMO of Krystal Restaurants. She’s only been in this role for six months but has already ushered in several new initiatives, including a new app & website, having college athlete ambassadors, as well as implementing the use of data in her marketing team.


🍽 Name: Alice Crowder
🍽 What she does: Alice is the new CMO at Krystal Restaurants.
🍽 Key Quote: “I want my CEO to be happy, but I really don’t care what he thinks. I care what a statistically significant group of our consumers thinks.”
🍽 Where to find Alice: LinkedIn

Key Insights

🌶️ Balancing Data and the Creative Process
Alice’s approach to marketing is a marriage of instinct & innovation supported by a process infrastructure.  Hear how she and her team use data from focus groups & market research to iteratively whittle down from 100 ideas to a select few every six weeks.
🌶️ Modernizing the Guest Experience
In her first six months as CMO, Alice has spearheaded the launch of Krystal’s first mobile app & retooled their website to facilitate loyalty, online ordering, and delivery for their guests. Guests can now meaningfully interact with Krystal like never before; via college athlete ambassadors & influencers on social media. Early Results: Digital engagement increased from 0.2% to 3.5% in just a few months.
🌶️ Shifting Focus from Value to >>> Convenience and Craveability
Alice introduces the idea of efficient indulgence for restaurants. Today, most guests focus more on convenience and craveability than on value. Thus, the next step forward for restaurants is to optimize the off-premise to meet guests where they are (and it’s a moving target for sure!!!).

Episode Highlights

Help Implement a New Process with Results
Bringing in a new way of doing things is always hard in any organization. And although Alice was previously at Krystal from 2014-2018, she still had to show that her unique data-centric process worked with results for the leaders in the organization to buy-in.
“You always get a little bit of pushback because everybody feels like they know [the industry]. Restaurants are one of those things that we all have so much experience in and affinity for. We all feel like we’re marketing experts. […] The learning comes from success, so I always ask leadership teams to give me a couple of promotions to prove it. As soon as you can show a tie to results with the process, there’s a lot more acceptance of it, and then they start to engage with it.”
Optimizing The Off-Premise Experience
Jen and Alice talk further about what Krystal sees as one of the biggest upcoming opportunities: optimizing their off-premise experience. To her, restaurants are no longer just about the in-dining experience, it has expanded well beyond what many in the industry are used to. The influx of third-party delivery has changed how brands are viewed by many guests.
“More and more guests are not interested in coming to your dining room. No matter how nice your dining room is, it’s not as nice as their couch. The more you can take that part of the experience out of the equation, the more successful you are. Whether that’s third-party, whether that’s your own branded delivery, I think we’re going to see more and more focus on making the experience as automated as possible and as far removed from the restaurant as possible.”
Technology in Marketing Has Changed The Game
When talking about marrying tech with marketing, Alice and Jen see eye to eye — technology is a necessity for modern marketing. Technology has helped teams pivot away from mass marketing and instead have a more targeted approach.
“Now there are so many ways to reach someone from a messaging standpoint. I can buy a commercial on TV, but while you’re watching Hulu, I can get a more programmatic reach by buying commercials for only the kind of people that I think will be most relevant. With digital and with social and with geo-fencing, we are learning a lot about meeting guests where they are.”

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