Coupon clipping? Most of us have, at least once. Receive a discount price for something you were going to purchase, regardless. That's a good thing. You’re ahead of the game by a few cents or more –and the sponsor gets customer loyalty and feet through the door. Business Week reports on a version of the grocery market circular on e-roids—how McDonalds is testing the concept of pushing coupons into your smartphone with an app called “McD”, and pulling customers through its golden arches. Kevin Newell, chief brand and strategy officer for McDonald’s U.S. calls it product engagement. Technically, the roll-out is easier for company operations to implement than mobile payment apps like the one introduced by Starbucks, or one requiring even more sophisticated operational changes like an app that allows one to order for takeout via smartphone.
The considerations made by a company must include availability—when you push out a deal, ideally your business should be nearby. And, in addition, you don’t want to get criticized for draining your customer’s smartphone battery. The description provided by McDonald’s in the app store is: “Welcome to McDonald's USA's official mobile app, designed to help you find your nearest restaurant, get official nutrition info, check for employment opportunities and get the latest on our promotions.”
Even with what would seem to be a well designed application, some of the reviews posted in the app store remind us, unsurprisingly, that like any product, the roll-out is best if perfected and market tested. Responded one recipient, “Very poorly done, "amateurish" at best. In my attempt to locate a store, the mileage was 42,405. It appears the assumption is I'm attached to the satellite….” Another user opined, “The app is as good as the food is for you!”
Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s executive vice president and global chief brand officer, described a vision for McDonald’s digital future during the investor meeting: “Imagine a customer walks [into] their local McDonald’s and receives a message on their smartphone that welcomes them back to the restaurant by name and a message that offers them the ability to place their favorite order, perhaps a Big Mac Extra Value Meal from their phone. Maybe then support it with a personalized offer to being a loyal customer or perhaps a customer-relation management program that gives loyal customers access to fun and exciting rewards that only McDonald’s can deliver.”
Even with growing pains, app-based coupons will be an emerging trend.