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Burger King ups ante on promoting apps with smartphone offer

August 26, 2014

Unknown-1In a reflection of just how important young, mobile-savvy consumers are for quick-service restaurants, Burger King is offering a free Android phone to support the national launch of its mobile coupon application.

Consumers who visit the landing page can pick from a variety of Android phone models available from AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless. To be eligible for the free phone, consumers must sign up for a new two-year activation or upgrade and enter the code FREEPHONE at check out.

“We’ve been testing the app locally for a few months, but today is the national launch,” said Samuel Heath, director of revenue management and pricing at Burger King, on Monday. “This is the first national release of the app and coupons.

“The goal is to get people to download and install the app on their phones,” he said. “The free smartphone promotion gives people who don’t already have a smartphone access to the app and coupons.

“It will take a while to build, but we hope this will attract a new type of customer, a younger generation that’s more tech savvy, to come into our restaurants.”

Splashy promotions
Marketers are increasingly putting splashy promotions behind mobile apps as they recognize just how important a healthy app business is.

Savvy brands place a big focus on loyalty and recognize that apps can help drive the kind of repeat business they crave by offering preferred deals, timely reminders and convenient payment options.

Apps can also help drive product awareness.

Burger King announced earlier this year that it had developed a new digital platform intended to help it quickly scale up with exclusive mobile offers, payments, order-ahead and other features offered as part of its mobile app.

Burger King claims to be the first legacy, fast food hamburger restaurant chain to enable digital coupons and offers on a national basis (see story).


Driving downloads
Now that the app has launched on a national basis, the chain is using the free phone promotion to grab attention and encourage consumers to download it.

“I’m not convinced the free phone offer itself will be taken up by a meaningful number of consumers,” said Rob Hoxie, vice president of business development and partnerships at Atimi Software, Vancouver, Canada.

“However, the overall promotion, which is unique for a QSR, will create great publicity and eyeballs on the fact the new Burger King app is available,” he said.

“This should drive some impressive download numbers, which is clearly the goal. Repeat visits will depend on the engagement strategy – now that they’ve got this audience, they will need to proactively keep them interested in the brand.”

Mr. Hoxie is not affiliated with Burger King and spoke based on his experience with mobile apps.

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Burger King and other quick-service restaurants are under growing pressure as sales stagnate in the face of growing competition and changing consumer tastes.

The new mobile app is just one of several ways Burger King is looking to boost its bottom line.

The company is also reportedly in talks to acquire Canadian chain Tim Horton’s and relocate Burger King’s headquarters to Canada, where the tax rate is lower.

A significant channel
While numerous marketers have bet on promotions to drive app downloads, Burger King appears to be taking the strategy to the next level with the attention-grabbing offer of a free smartphone.

Dunkin’ Donuts recently celebrated the two-year anniversary of its mobile application with a two-day sweepstakes on Twitter, giving users a chance to win two $22 mobile gift cards (see story).

“In the quest for direct connections to consumers where they’re spending most of their digital time (on mobile devices), brands are upping the ante on perks to drive downloads,” Mr. Hoxie said.

“Clearly, this is a sign that, when done contextually correct, offers and other marketing methods via mobile apps are working out there,” he said.

“Brands see the data out there than confirms consumers are on their mobile devices and that apps are a significant channel.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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