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App based loyalty, a key to Happier McDonald’s Meals

Sadia Corey VP, Client Development 26/10/2020

App-based loyalty programs at fast-food chains are gaining preference as apps provide a secure way to order online during the pandemic.

A recent Savanta study showed that 46% of consumers consider having an app a necessity at fast food chains for safety during the pandemic.
Of consumers who ordered from a restaurant in the past month, McDonald's (59%) was the preferred restaurant of choice followed by Taco Bell (36%), Subway (32%), and Wendy's (31%).

46% of consumers consider having an app a necessity at fast food chains for safety during the pandemic.

More than half of McDonald’s current customers aged 34-45 would prefer an app-based loyalty program over a membership punch card program mainly due to the added benefit of contactless payments and service.

Interestingly McDonald’s has recently expanded its McCafe loyalty reward program to include menu items beyond beverages. This evolution of the loyalty program is likely to increase McDonald’s customer frequency. When asked what food should earn rewards, we found burgers top the list at 66% and fries at 59% followed by beverages at 49% and breakfast foods at 43%.

The use of a new loyalty membership program is likely to enhance McDonald’s drive-thru experience, too. Nearly half of McDonald’s users believe that an expanded loyalty program would speed up the drive-thru service by McDonald’s and they would use it more.

More casual and fast-casual chains are adapting to drive-thru, pick-up, and home delivery options to stay afloat during the pandemic. Several existing players like Starbucks, Domino’s Pizza, Subway, Taco Bell and Chipotle are successfully running app-based loyalty reward programs for their customers, enabling them to earn points and redeem them for different menu items.

The pandemic may have sped up the digitization of fast-food chains who already were equipped with dine-out options like the drive through providing a sense of socially distanced service. The need for contactless service may have escalated the priority of these restaurants’ apps which benefit both the consumer with loyalty programs as well as the restaurant who can leverage user-level data. Restaurants will be able to understand their consumer, increase loyalty, and customer service by using dynamic personalization and big data analytics. Savanta data shows consumers would prefer using app-based loyalty programs over the traditional loyalty programs which could unlock a wealth of customer-centric, loyalty marketing possibilities.

To find out more about this research, contact [email protected]

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