Marketing Tricks Fast Food Restaurants Use To Keep You Coming Back

HOW do you magically crave junk food when you’re not even hungry?  Good Question Right?
Fast food restaurants have tricks up their sleeves to keep you coming back for more. What is it about these junk food giants that give our hunger buds the ultimate kick in the guts when we are hungry?! You would have guessed it, they have numerous marketing tactics to lure you in & they are so subtle, that you didn’t even realise you just got targeted.

Let’s check them out.



The general jab in the arm that the fast food industry uses to inject their marketing into you (and the most prevalent) is the price.

How can you not afford a $1 cheeseburger at McDonald’s on the lunch time special?

An interesting study done by Harvard University sought out that the average person would be paying $1.50 more per day to eat a healthier homemade option then to eat junk food.

I mean, it sells itself…does it not?

People always whine about the price of everything going up, so the best marketing tactic & evidently a more direct marketing tactic that these junk food giants implement is cheaper food.

We all have to eat don’t we?

More recently, Australian’s have really shown our expenditure for cheap fast food as we have now moved to 11th position in the world for spend on junk and takeaway foods. We are officially thriving off of the cheaper food!

If food in a supermarket is more expensive than that of a fast food chain, why are we bothering to shop at all?




The ultimate fast food marketing tactic for any business in the world, is being super convenient… being everywhere!

It’s hard not to imagine a world without fast food chains every 2nd shop on the main streets of major cities and unfortunately that’s the way it looks these days. With there being nearly 25,000 fast food businesses in Australia, you’re bound to find a fast food restaurant faster than you would a service station. If you’re lucky you’ll find a servo with a fast food chain attached to it (you really can’t avoid them).

It’s crazy to think (but when you think about it, probably makes sense) that 57% of purchases of burgers done in a fast food joint didn’t require the driver to leave the car to purchase. Fast food has literally turned into a pit stop, a literal fuel stop for drivers.

With the fast food industry steadily climbing at 3.7% annually & now with the introduction of these ‘food delivery services’ if it wasn’t already convenient enough for you to physically go and get fast food, they now can bring it to you.



Have you walked past a subway chain lately?

You know the scent as soon as you smell it and don’t think it’s an accident. That is marketing.

If you’re not hungry all of the sudden the smell of food plays with your mind and puts you into an instant aroma of hunger. It’s crazy the power of the mind, you can always manage to find some reason to eat something that smells so damn good!

Every fast food giant does it, especially the ones located in a city center or a populated area. They purposely leave their doors open and the 24/7 restaurants usually don’t even bother with doors due to always being open.

Subway are my example, as they purposely cook and heat the bread in increments to ensure the aroma wafts into your walking by nostrils.

Not only does Subway contribute to this fester of a tactic, McDonald’s are quiet victims of this ordeal too and let’s not forget to mention KFC they’re prevalent too.

An interesting tactic used at Cinnabon stores (in the US) is to heat sheets of cinnamon daily to keep the scent in the air & let’s be real here, no one ever can miss that scent of cinnamon.

Some may think it’s genius, some may say it’s crazy but at the end of the day you didn’t even know what hit you when you smell that fast food lingers.




As I mentioned earlier, convenience is obviously the massive counterpart to the marketing success of fast food chains.

However the actual capacity of the real estate these businesses own and their physical locations is another tactic that goes well under the radar to bring people success.

You’ll be surprised, hear me out.

A McDonald’s restaurant is open 24/7 in most major CBD’s in Australia.

Let’s be honest here, when you have had a late night at a bar/club you’re not going to want to go home hungry, you go straight to Macca’s.

Most of these restaurants locate themselves within walking distance of bars and clubs and you don’t have to look much further then Melbourne’s CBD where the Flinders St, Collins St, Bourke St & La Trobe St locations are all walking distances to bars and clubs.

Not just the physical location…the capacity that these restaurants hold also drags you in.

At 1am you’re more inclined to enter a McDonalds and take a seat with your mates & while your gas bagging about your night, you down a cheeky cheeseburger for the hell of it.

That whole tactic of letting anyone walk in and take a seat already brings more people in then that of a normal restaurant & unfortunately for you, yet again you have been sucked into the marketing ploy of fast food.




Have you ever actually taken note of the colours that the majority of these fast food chains use?

Studies proved that the companies using ‘warmer colours’ are more inclined to activate hunger patterns in the cognitive thinking section of your mind.

Let’s use some examples…actually lets just tell you. Red & Yellow are generally used in majority of fast food chains.

McDonalds, Subway, KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino’s & Hungry Jacks just to name a few have either or both colours in their logo’s…..Crazy isn’t it.

Just think about that information for a second whilst you take a bite out of the next burger you get.



The good old-fashioned billboard advertisements.

These go really hand in hand when it comes to convenience & location because when you’re driving, and you see some big food related advert in your face, your mind goes into overdrive.

Kid you not, McDonalds are the biggest culprit of this as usually on highways and motorways anywhere in the world, they will generally put signs up in indices of 3.

300 meters – Mc Donald’s on the right.

200 meters – Mc Donald’s at your next exit.

100 meters – Mc Donald’s this exit.

Without even knowing it you’re in the drive through getting a 50 cent cone.

It’s damming to know how much money companies are actually spending still on billboards in this digital age, with a whopping $38 billion being spent this year, it’s crazy dollars to think that this will ever end!




There is always some deal that you can’t refuse

The McDonald’s $1 hamburger, Subway’s $5 footlong, KFC’s 9 pieces for $9.95 & the list goes on.

They’ve always got some ridiculous affordable deal that you can’t refuse because it’s so cheap and it tastes so good.

As consumers we always fall victim to it, because let’s be honest who doesn’t want a $1 hamburger.

It’s always a successful tactic used by the fast food industry as they always manage to drag you back for more; some people the daily.


Targeting Kids


Don’t worry, fast food chains look after kids too.

The amount of marketing money that goes towards aiming campaigns at children and fast food is astonishing.

A rough figure of $4.6 billion was spent in 2013 on advertising the junk food industry to kids & it always manages to pay off.

You only have to look as far as the Happy Meal. For decades, McDonalds have had the Happy Meal & giving away toys as part of the meal which usually are in a collectible series of 5. So to get them all, their parents will have to take you 5 times.

Not just mentioning the toys, but the McDonald’s characters and sell themselves to kids just as much.

Whose kid doesn’t love Ronald McDonald?



Massive Spending Budgets

Lastly, let’s not forget the massive budgets these fast food businesses consist of.

McDonald’s alone spend nearly $1 billion a year on advertising. If that doesn’t explain to you the power that they have as a company to get the word across, I don’t know what will!

There are not many companies in the world that can say they drop $1 billion to advertise their company, let alone the fast food industry as a whole.



Well, there you have it, some basic insight into the marketing tricks that the fast food industry like to imply on you to get your service and most importantly, your money


This blog was written by Luke Rigo who motivates himself the daily to keep fit and be healthy!

If you interested in learning more about marketing & restaurants check out his work here.


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