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Wendy’s looks for right balance in mobile payments

September 25, 2013

Mobile payment is live in three Wendy's markets

NEW YORK – A Wendy’s executive at the Mobile Marketing Association’s SM2 conference spoke about how the company is using its mobile application to test payments and uncover which features consumers are interested in.

During the “Bread Crumbs Lead: On the Move from Profiling by Demographics to Profiling by Intent” session, the Wendy’ executive spoke about the different ways that the company is leveraging mobile as part of an integrated marketing mix. The session was moderated by Molly Spilman, executive vice president of global sales and marketing at Millennial Media, Baltimore.

“We did build an app that has basically a nutrition focus, but what it has run to is that we now have three markets active with mobile payment,” said Brandon Rhoten, vice president of digital and social media at Wendy’s, Dublin, OH.

“We don’t know if it’s going to be a huge consumer draw, we know that it works really well for Starbucks, so we know that people want to get in and out of a restaurant real fast and hope we can aid in that process,” he said.

“We’re experimenting with it to see if it’s the kind of thing consumers want – maybe they want mobile ordering, maybe they want customer service. We’re trying to figure out what they want without becoming a robot where you can’t talk to people in restaurants.”

Appy orders
According to Mr. Rhoten, nutrition is one of the main purposes of Wendy’s mobile app after finding consumers were not choosing to not eat fast food because they were not aware of the number of choices on the menu.

The app lets consumers set a calorie limit to help figure out which items they can order.

The same experience that lets consumers customize their orders also works across the brand’s mobile Web site and other platforms.

The brand is also running focus groups to ask consumers what they think about the app.

Wendy’s app helps the gather data about its users that is used in conjunction with pieces of Web data, email and social media.

Mobile focus
For Wendy’s, mobile plays a key role in showcasing new products to consumers.

Additionally, mobile and social go hand-in-hand as part of a bigger marketing mix.

For example, the explosion of social media and mobile gives Wendy’s a better chance at targeting television and digital video media buys as consumers increasingly swap out TV sets for digital devices to watch TV on.

“Every initiative that we have is mobile,” Mr. Rhoten said.

“It doesn’t matter the initiative, I know it’s a real big cliché to say mobile-first now, but the truth is that if there is a program and not a mobile element with it, we kill it just because more than half of the traffic that comes to most of our properties is mobile somehow.

“The other thing is that we are not a considered purchase, we’re not a car,” he said. “You don’t think about what you are going to eat for lunch for three days – you think about it within the 20 minutes before you eat.

“Because we’re not a real considered purchase, for us, we have to be in the environment where you are making that decision, and often that is the magical computer in your pocket, so we need to be sure that information is always available and we are always there.”

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

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