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Want Fries with That App?

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Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 4.52.06 PMSource: ben-evans.com

In an effort to boost sales amongst millennial diners, McDonald’s has begun testing a mobile app in 1,000 locations. Beneath the golden arches, customers in pilot markets open up their “McD” app featuring mobile-exclusive offers such as buy-one-get-one breakfast sandwiches or a $1 McChicken sandwich.

With the global proliferation of smartphone usage and app downloads, brands like McDonald’s are taking advantage of these trends to drive both revenue and customer loyalty. Some have likened McDonald’s to a glorified Groupon; others may dub it a branded, localized, social-commerce tool. Whichever way you lean, the hope is that millennials will eat it up.

The deal-based mobile app is part of the recognition that McDonald’s and other brands share: digital and mobile accessibility are “increasingly critical in the U.S,” Sara Senatore, a New York-based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Consumers are downloading and using apps at quite a clip, and we believe that brands will continue to build and launch mobile apps to boost sales, drive advocacy around rewards and enhance engagement through social sharing.

Aligning with these trends, at Bonfyre we’ve created a platform that focuses on “narrowcasting.” Brands create invite-only, ad hoc social networks called “bonfyres” focused around events, groups of people or influencers where participants can chat and share photos, captions and more. Instead of shouting to millions of Facebook likes or sifting through #mentions to reach a mass audience, Bonfyre fosters relevant two-way communication and sharing between specific audiences and a brand to cater the message and the consumer experience. Over the past year, we’ve helped brands like Budweiser, Express Scripts, an NFL team and MKTG INC leverage mobile technology around their unique events and communities. Through the narrow lens, our clients can better understand and measure how their audience interacts, to what messages they respond, the content they love and more.

As McDonald’s deploys McD to lure millennials, the company’s marketers will gain tremendous intelligence on how their consumers behave and how they leverage digital/mobile tech: what items they redeem most frequently, at what times, and hopefully drive additional sales via the app and market- or store-specific insights. Marketers might call that ROI. Millennials would call it the entire value menu.

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