Welcome to our behind-the-scenes look at the customer’s decision-making process for food purchases. Let’s dive right in. 😉
Design Goal & First Steps
Our goal was to create a fun customer simulation for you to experience what it is like to be a business owner in the outdoor food industry😁. Food vendors interact daily with a broad range of people with different tastes and preferences, and they design offerings to meet those needs.
Engineering customer behaviour in the game was a challenge.
Because we could not cater to all customer tastes and preferences, we started by creating nine customer segments based on food-related lifestyles. 👨👩👧👦
Their purchase decision is influenced by one or a combination of the following factors:
- How appealing the Stand looks
- The price of burgers
- The food and service quality of the stand
- Brand popularity of the business
We divided the customer purchase journey into three steps:
- Purchase Awareness
- Purchase Activation
- Purchase Decision
Step 1: Purchase Awareness
Before customers can decide whether to buy from your Stand, they must first become aware of it. If they do not, they will keep going on their way. 🚶
They become aware by colliding with your Stand’s Range of Influence. The Range of Influence is like an invisible force field around your Stand. It alerts customers of its presence.
The size of a Stand’s Range of Influence size is determined by its Brand 🧑💼, Quality ⭐, and Appeal 😍. The stronger these are, the larger the range of influence and the higher the likelihood that customers will collide with the range of influence.
The Range of Influence formula is:
Colliding with a Stand’s Range of Influence activates the second step of the customer purchase journey.
Step 2: Purchase Activation
Now, the customer goes through various factors to determine whether they will buy. Their probability of purchasing from your Stand depends on how well your business satisfies these factors.
The following are the factors they consider.
Is the Stand classy enough?
Some customer segments, like Managers, have a minimum Stand requirement. There are six types of Stands available; if a customer segment does not consider the Stand you own classy enough, most will not buy from it. 👎
But this only applies to the more affluent customer segments 🏧. Other customers are not too bothered with what type of Stand your business owns. They just move on to the other factors.
Am I Hungry?
Each customer segment has a time-of-day 🕒 when they are likely to be hungrier than at others. During the hungry periods, the customer’s activation probability gradually rises ⬆️ to a peak of 100%. It then dips ⬇️ to a low of 25% after that.
When customers collide with your Stand’s range, the system generates a random number between 0 – 100. If the number falls below the customer’s activation probability at that time, the customer will proceed to the next deciding factor. If it falls above it, the customer will continue on its way.
How much does the burger cost?
Some customers are more sensitive to your burger price 💲 than others. These customers will pass if your burger seems expensive. They use the difference between your selling price and the cost of an average burger patty to decide its affordability.
Side note: We chose to use the burger patty as the basis for price sensitivity because it is the most valuable part of all the burger recipes in the game.
The lower the difference, the more affordable, price-sensitive customers perceive the burger. This increases ⬆️ their purchase probability based on price.
Below is how the purchase probability for Students 🧑🎓 is calculated.
Y = Probability of purchase based on burger price
X = % of selling price based on the cost of patty
The formula results in this graph showing customer purchase probabilities at different selling-price-to-patty-cost ratios:
As the ratio increases, the purchase probability of each customer segment decreases. The process is similar for drinks 🥤. However, the basis for price sensitivity is the base cost of drinks.
The formula for parents 🧑🤝🧑:
Y = Probability of drink purchase
X = % of selling price based on base cost of drink
The graph below displays the result of the formula for customers at different sales-to-cost-price ratios:
You can see customers are less sensitive to drink pricing than burger pricing. This is because drinks 🥤 are a complimentary product in the game.
Customers with a high purchase probability at your burger price will proceed to their final deciding factor.
Does the Stand have a good reputation?
Every Stand has a reputation which influences the number of customers it attracts. Reputable Stands attract more customers across all segments than those with a low reputation.
The two factors that form a Stand’s reputation are its Quality ⭐ and Appeal 😍. Quality has food and service aspects. Food and service quality depends on employee performance. Appeal depends on the type of stand and upgrades installed in it.
Some customers may decide not to buy from a Stand if its reputation is too low 👎. The purchase probability formula for the influencer segment based on a Stand’s reputation is:
Y = Probability of purchase based on reputation
X = Appeal Value or Quality Value
Below is the graphical representation of the formula across all customer segments at different quality or appeal values:
The purchase probability for each segment clearly increases with quality or appeal.
The customer’s purchase activation process culminates in an overall purchase probability figure. This figure is a combination of their time 🕒, price 💲, quality ⭐, and appeal 😍 purchase probabilities.
It is now time to decide.
Step 3: Purchase Decision
We all know that customers can be unpredictable sometimes. Your product could tick all the right boxes ✅, but they still decide to postpone their purchase for other reasons.
We factored in this slight deviation from predictability by adding an extra step at the purchase decision point.
After a customer’s overall purchase probability is determined, the system generates a random number between 0 – 100. If the number is less or equal to the overall purchase probability, the customer decides to buy from the Stand. But if the number is higher than the purchase probability, the customer postpones the purchase.
Understanding your customer’s decision-making process is essential to the growth and success of any real-life business 💹. We tried to replicate this in the game without spoiling the fun.
We hope the customer simulation provides an equally enjoyable and valuable experience for you as you build a successful food truck business. Don’t forget to join our community to get these behind-the-scenes specials delivered directly to your inbox. We’ve got other exclusive perks waiting for you.