Carls Jr and Hardees Fast Food Chains Launch Location Based Rewards Program
Fast food, as the term implies, is often consumed by people who are too busy to sit down and eat food that takes more than a few minutes to prepare and serve. These fast food aficionados are usually on their way to some meeting, a class or some other activity and they grab a burger and fries and devour them on the way to the destination.
Because they’re constantly on the move and they typically have a smartphone to incessantly check emails and keep them on schedule, customers of quick serve restaurants (QSRs) are ideal prospects for location-based loyalty programs. Leave it to the company that produced televisions ads that featured a scantily-clad Paris Hilton washing a car while eating a burger and Kim Kardashian consuming a fresh salad in her PJs to come up with a loyalty/rewards program that is based on the hottest social media.
Advertising trade publications such as Mashable and Ad Age first reported that the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains have launched a GPS-enabled loyalty program that rewards users for checking in at these restaurants across the U.S. The program is called The Happy Star Rewards app and it is available for iPhone and Android smartphones. This is the first time that the fast-food industry has combined location-based check-in technology and rewards, according to parent of the two chains, CKE Restaurants, Inc.
Just Drive Through and Check In
Because of the competitive nature of the quick serve restaurant category, innovative or even wacky promotions have always been a part of winning the dollars of the very fickle fast foodies. While some would question the taste or nutrition of their food, the company’s promotional efforts have always been ranked “Four Stars” by marketing observers and this Happy Star app is an evolution of this past success. In addition to enabling digital tracking of customer visits, the new app offers guaranteed rewards, a restaurant locator, a social media interface, streaming videos, menus and nutritional information.
In announcing the new location-based loyalty program, the company said that users who download the rewards app from the iTunes App store or Android Market and check in at any of the chains’ locations will begin to earn awards immediately. The first check-in and every subsequent fourth check-in will earn the participant a spin on “The Wheel of Awesome,” which is the rewards app already present on both chains’ Facebook pages.
By spinning the wheel, the customer can earn a chance to win discounted and free menu items, branded gift cards, prizes and merchandise from participating partners. The current partner prizes include Sony electronics and movie tickets to the upcoming film “The Green Hornet.” Participants in the promotion can transfer coupons from the prize wheel app on Facebook directly to their mobile phones in order to redeem.
Users who check in but have not yet earned an “awesome” spin can receive a coupon for a currently featured item. They may choose to save the coupon for seven days or redeem it immediately in-store or at a drive-through. In a deft move to integrate the promotion to the company’s social network media, once redeemed, users can share the experience with friends by posting on Facebook and Twitter. In an effort to increase loyalty of these participants, reward offers increase in value with the frequency of check-ins.
The company notes that check-ins are limited to three per day and are also limited to one per day-part (breakfast, 5:30 to 10:30 a.m.; lunch, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and dinner/late-night, 5 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.).
The combination of Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s is the #4 ranked burger chain in the United States. McDonald’s is ranked first in terms of locations with 31,000 stores and it is followed by Burger King and Wendy’s chains. Carl’s Jr/Hardee’s are primarily found in the Southern, Western and Southwestern U.S. and the company is expanding into Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Russia, Vietnam and China in the coming years.
A Marketing Recipe for Success
The population that embraces mobile technology is the bull’s eye for fast food marketers. This group is seldom without some form of mobile device – whether it be smartphones or other web enabled gadgets – and they are heavy users of social networks such as Facebook and location based applications such as Foursquare and Gowalla. Marketers at the CKE Restaurant chain have evidently been noticing these trends and have implemented a strategy to take advantage of them.
The Happy Star application integrates with the chains’ existing digital communities by offering the same look and feel as the brands’ Facebook pages and streaming YouTube videos. It builds on CKE Restaurants’ community approach to social media, which has driven their combined Facebook fans to more than 1 million friends. All of these tactics are textbook examples of integrated marketing
While some fast food purveyors have been tweaking their offerings to include more healthy items, Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s have not made this move. This app is not going to make burgers and fries any healthier. However, most likely, it will get busy people who enjoy getting a reward for their loyalty to these restaurants to buy these products on a regular basis and that’s a marketing recipe that CKE Restaurants will find very tasty indeed.
2. Carl's Jr. and Hardee's Launch Innovative Mobile Rewards App …