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McDonald’s gauges success of US mobile deal app with expansion

December 9, 2013

McDonald’s is expanding the rollout of a branded mobile application to the Northeast United States that lets consumers find, redeem and track offers.

The app expansion is part of McDonald’s ongoing efforts to better understand how consumers use their mobile devices to interact with the QSR. The fast food giant is running a number of different mobile tests worldwide.

“We’ve ran it in the San Francisco Bay area market and then we just recently launched in St. Louis and now the Northeast, so [next it is] the Boston region in three markets,” said David Martinelli, digital marketing manager at McDonald’s, Oak Brook, IL.

“We’re really trying to get a gauge on — as we expand it in more restaurants — impact and the success measures in a variety of different areas of the country,” he said.

Mobile fuel
The McD app is available for free download for iPhone and Android devices in the three markets in the New England area. The app is also being tested in Albany, NY.

The app pushes out store-specific deals to consumers that are then redeemed in-store.

The app is also being promoted with in-restaurant QR codes at the participating McDonald’s locations.

The deals are time-sensitive and must be shown to a store employee within two minutes of clicking to redeem an offer.

The McD app

Once an offer is used, it is saved to the history section of the app.

As an incentive to download the app, consumers initially receive an offer for a free large sandwich.

Examples of other offers include a free latte or cookies with any purchase.

The app also lets consumers find a nearby restaurant or browse through a digital menu. Each menu item can be clicked on to show its nutritional value.

The McDonalds app is powered by Mowingo and builds on a similar program that has been piloted the past couple of years.

In 2012, McDonald’s rolled out a program that incorporated the Mowingo app into more than 500 locations after being tested in a handful of stores in the northern California region (see story).

Another screenshot of the McD app

Mobile deals

McDonald’s has made a big push in the U.S. with mobile this year.

For instance, the QSR is running a small program with third-party deal app Frontflip to drive in-store traffic and sales.

Additionally, McDonald’s began testing Isis’ mobile wallet in Austin, TX, and Salt Lake City, UT this year.

At the same time that McDonald’s is piloting mobile payments and rewards in the U.S., the fast food giant is also getting some international traction with mobile.

The company recently expanded a test program with PayPal to roll out mobile payments nationwide in France (see story).

What is different in this case is that McDonald’s is using its own branded app versus some of the third-party apps that the company also uses.

The McD app also lets franchise owners leverage mobile as much or little as they want to drive in-store traffic with the offers and deals.

“It’s dependent on the market,” Mr. Martinelli said. “They actually have the ability to determine how often they want to change out the offers, so it’s a variety of offers from buy-one-get-one-frees to discounts on products.”

“Because our restaurants are franchised, those markets can determine which offers they want specific to their restaurants,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York 

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