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McDonald’s fries up mobile sales with incentive for Philadelphia app users

McDonald’s is previewing the United States version of its mobile application with consumers in the Philadelphia region and is tacking on a complimentary item for each download, proving that incentives are king in the food-and-beverage sector.

McDonald’s is introducing the eponymous app to the Philadelphia market ahead of a planned national rollout later this fall. To drive app downloads among fans, the fast food chain is offering an incentive of a complimentary large sandwich to anyone registered to receive national offers.

“Mowingo and its customers have experimented various offers, in different markets,” said Daniel T. Dreymann, CEO and co-founder of Mowingo, Inc., Los Altos, CA. “When consumers perceive the welcome offer to be ‘lame’ many of them aren’t motivated enough to give the app a chance.

“On the other hand, if the welcome offer is ridiculously attractive (e.g. a free meal with no purchase necessary) you get a stampede of customers with no affinity for the brand, who just want to take advantage of the welcome offer. We have found empirically that a free sandwich hits the sweet spots: lots of downloads, converting to happy repeat users.”

The McDonald’s mobile app is powered by Mowingo.

Engaging customers
The brand is making up for lost time by rolling out a slew of mobile offers to commemorate the app’s release in Greater Philadelphia. McDonald’s has been slow to bring an app to the U.S. market, especially after competitors including Taco Bell have already begun perfecting mobile ordering capabilities.

Nevertheless, McDonald’s is hoping to raise awareness, as well as flagging sales, by offering a free large sandwich to any customer who downloads and registers for the app.

The app will also house additional ways for fans to interact with the fast food chain, including nutritional facts, a store locator, product promotions, career information and notices concerning Ronald McDonald House Charities.

While McDonald’s is lagging behind other marketers in the industry, it could reclaim some of its flagging revenue with in-app coupons (see story). The brand has announced a plethora of mobile offers valid for the month of September, all of which Philadelphia app users may take advantage of.

Through Sept. 16, customers may receive buy one, get one free McGriddles, a complimentary Happy Meal after buying a salad, $1 off a large McCafe drink and a $5 off coupon for a purchase of $25 or more.

The end of the month will bring about promotions such as buy one, get one breakfast sandwiches, $1 off discounts for any Premium Burger and free large fries with the purchase of a premium sandwich.

Playing catch up
Offering consumers an incentive of a free menu item, with no purchase necessary, is a smart strategy of ensuring that consumers are enticed to download the app and use it in the future.

If a hungry customer is debating which fast food chain to visit and he or she discovers McDonald’s sandwich offer, there is a greater likelihood that he or she will opt to visit a McDonald’s location and take advantage of the complimentary giveaway.

This may also help ensure that consumers keep the app on their smartphones after the initial download. While many individuals think of their smartphones as prime real estate for relevant content, they may be persuaded to stay active in an app if they believe additional promotions will arrive sporadically.

“Mowingo has been active in 18 regional markets for the last couple of years, and we have found that whether they are West Coast, East Coast, Midwest, rural, urban, upscale, blue collar — all markets and all demographics respond very well to apps that keep rewarding customers for their loyalty,” Mr. Dreymann said. “Philly should be no different.

“Mowingo’s platform personalizes the offers based on customer preferences – both explicitly stated, and derived from past behavior within the app, and in the store. This is key to keep customers happy, and have them return to the store time and again.”

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