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Carl’s Jr. adds sizzle to mobile loyalty with welcome offer

Carl’s Jr. is cooking up a loyalty application to serve to Canadian customers that includes payment, gifting and rewards options, and is welcoming new users with a $10 credit on mobile to fuel in-app purchases.

The casual dining chain has teamed up with mobile payments platform PayWith to power the Carl’s Jr. Rewards app for the Canadian market and answer consumers’ demands for a one-stop location with payment, gifting and loyalty perk options. The brand is enticing its fans to download the app by offering a complimentary $10 gift card that will be sent directly to their smartphones, available to use for any menu item at participating locations.

“Our customers are very tech-savvy and as a culture we’re only beginning to learn how to use these little supercomputers that we all carry around in our pocket,” said Jeff Branton, vice president and general manager of Carl’s Jr. Canada, Vancouver. “This app platform is very flexible and expandable, so we can continue to expand the features of the app to meet the demands of our consumers.

“We specifically target males 18-34, and they are wired, big users of tech and social media. If we want to stay close to customers, we need go where they are and give them features and rewards they can use.”

Multiple functionalities
Carl’s Jr. opted to roll out the all-encompassing mobile app to help the brand keep its youthful image and cater to millennial customers. The company is now the first burger chain in Canada to launch an app including gifting, mobile payments and rewards.

Fans can now use the app to purchase any menu item at participating restaurant locations and pay via their mobile device, enabling them to skip long lines at the cash register and simply pick up their meal before heading off. Beacons will greet customers as soon as they walk into a Carl’s Jr. store, offering a more personalized experience.

“For the consumers, the most exciting thing is having an app that keeps track of their spending history and rewards them instantly,” said David Strebinger, CEO of PayWith, Vancouver. “This feature allows Carl’s Jr. to run personalized rewards programs which are based on the actions customers take vs. a standard rewards program that is the same for every customer.

“This means if you are a customer that visits more, spends more, shares more, or gives more feedback, than another customer, your rewards will be unique to your relationship with the brand and your rewards will reflect your relationship.”

The rewards portion of the app will be integrated into the Apple Pay and Android Pay platforms following their launch in Canada. This move suggests that other fast food chains would be well-suited to follow in Carl’s Jr.’s footsteps and offer options that do not exclude the significant amount of consumers favoring one platform over another.

With this functionality, guests will be able to tap their device at the cash register to pay for meals and simultaneously collect rewards.

The app also includes social media features that enable users to share communication with family and friends by tapping a button.

Carl’s Jr. fans can test out the app at the brand’s restaurants in Waterloo, Guelph and Toronto. Additional locations will be announced as the year progresses.

Staying competitive
In addition to staying youthful to cultivate the brand image, Carl’s Jr. is also ramping up competition among food and beverage brands by having its mobile app function as a triple threat. Consumers appreciate having one singular location where they may pay for items via mobile, purchase mgift cards and collect rewards.

Carl’s Jr. believes its new app feeds into that 360-degree mobile experience that customers are seeking. The introduction of the Rewards App also kicks off a Canadian market expansion that will see the brand open 30 new restaurants across Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe area over the next several years.

“For the Carl’s customer relationship team, the most exciting feature is the ability to capture real-time feedback and experiences and respond to any issues or concerns instantly,” Mr. Strebinger said. “The system allows the customer relationship managers to see feedback from customers and respond directly to customers in real-time.”

The fast food chain has previously tapped mobile offers to drive sales, suggesting that offering a monetary incentive for downloading an app is a smart tactic to leverage.

This past March, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s introduced the new Thickburger El Diablo via a $1-off coupon on the chains’ mobile-optimized sites and encouraged fans of spicy foods to post their experiences eating the burger with the #DiabloDare hashtag to win prizes, proving that mobile coupons reign supreme in driving sales of new products (see story).

“Hands down, mobile payment is the future, and consumer rewards have been around since before Carl’s made the first burger over 70 years ago, but now we can take app users into a completely new space that is customized for their tastes,” Carl’s Jr.’s Mr. Branton said.

“Additionally we can reward them not just for coming in and enjoying a big juicy burger, but we can reward them for telling their friends about it or trying something new.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York