Skip to Main Content
Paul van Vliet
Paul van Vliet | Applied Data Scientist, Civis Analytics

How well do you know your customers? 

We mean, really know them. 

Not just how they behave when interacting with your quick-service restaurants, but what they do when they’re out in the real world.

To build a complete portrait of your customers, you need to look beyond your first-party transactional data (information customers share with you directly) to third-party data (demographic and behavioral information sourced from trusted partners), which includes important insights such as where consumers prefer to shop, their age group, what they watch on TV, what hobbies they enjoy, and how they behave online. 

If you’re among the many QSR brands using first-party data to get to know your customers, that’s a great first step. But if you’re not yet using third-party data, it’s like looking at a photograph of a sculpture: you’re missing the big picture. Only when you see your customers in full — three-dimensionally — can you conduct effective outreach.

In this post, we explain how complementing your existing insights with third-party data enables you to maximize the value of each customer and better engage them across channels.

The power of third-party

Third-party data (e.g., geolocation data, census data, demographic data) allows you to add flavor and depth to your own first-party data, or fill in gaps, to illuminate your customers from all angles. It also enables modeling efforts to predict the likelihood of unknowns, like whether a one-off customer could become a repeat customer, and to identify potential new customers.  

The more you know about your customers, the more you can:


Improve the user experience. Harnessing third-party data helps you adjust your dining experience to reflect evolving customer needs and behavioral trends.

In October 2021, Wendy’s partnered with Google Cloud to leverage data analytics and artificial intelligence to improve in-restaurant experiences for both customers and employees — everything from accelerating drive-thru transactions to anticipating return customers’ favorite meals to preventing burgers from burning on the grill.

Janet Kennedy, Google Cloud vice president, North America regions, told The Wall Street Journal that its BigQuery data warehouse will allow Wendy’s to combine data on sales, locations, products, and consumers with third-party information from delivery partners, social media platforms, and other sources. Wendy’s can then layer on Google’s own data (from core products like search, maps, and advertising) to determine how, for example, weather correlates with ice cream sales in the Southern California market.


Inform menu offerings, promotions, and messaging. Seventy-one percent of restaurant marketers say understanding diner interests and preferences outside their four walls is important for shaping menu offerings, promotions, and messaging, according to a Nation’s Restaurant News report.

Mitra QSR, a franchised restaurant operator with more than 200 KFC and Taco Bell locations across the U.S., is leveraging artificial intelligence to better understand and navigate shifting consumer behaviors resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Mitra QSR franchisees shifted entirely to takeout in most geographies, streamlined menu options to increase drive-thru efficiency, and adjusted business hours and staffing requirements after data spotlighted declines in lunch-hour demand as well as an earlier, busier dinner rush.


Drive innovative location-based campaigns. Third-party data includes demographics and online activity, as well as datasets based on retail or event locations customers have visited.

For example, if you want to drive new or repeat business to a particular restaurant location, third-party data can help you identify customers who’ve visited retail locations or events nearby. For more than a decade, chains like Dunkin’, Cereality, and Papa Murphy’s Take ‘n’ Bake Pizza have also been using information about their heaviest users’ dining, shopping, and commuting habits to make decisions about where to open new restaurants.

The power of partnership

Building better customer profiles with non-transactional, third-party data powers growth for brands of all sizes, including fledgling quick-service chains with limited first-party insights. You can acquire third-party data from a variety of open-access sources (for example, open-source government resources) as well as a number of commercial data providers and platforms.

Working with a strong data platform partner can make the process of integrating third-party data with first-party insights go much more smoothly, and ensure your data remains clean, relevant, and useful. Here’s an example of how a major breakfast chain leveraged Civis Analytics’ Platform to enrich its audience insights, boost customer lifetime value, improve market share, and much more.

In the end, it all comes down to knowing your customer. Third-party data, coupled with your internal transactional knowledge, delivers a way to see in full your existing (and potential) customers, which in turn promotes improved customer satisfaction and increased profits — two things all restaurants need now more than ever.

Group of young people in the lobby of a QSR

Ready to leverage third-party data to build complete customer profiles that grow your QSR brand?

Civis Analytics can help you access third-party data, integrate it with your existing data and turn it into insights that drive action.

Connect to Our Data Experts