You know a lot about McDonald’s, but McDonald’s doesn’t know much about you.
But by year’s end, the world’s largest burger chain will roll out nationwide a mobile ordering system that will collect a wealth of data about the habits of customers — from what kind of burgers they prefer to how often they swing through the drive-through.
McDonald’s plans to use the information to customize the way it interacts with diners.
Despite a management shake-up at McDonald’s recently that saw the departures of the heads of marketing, menu strategy and digital, analysts expect the chain’s innovation plans to continue moving forward.
The ability to collect data on customers is important to McDonald’s, which is trying to reverse a yearslong decline in customer traffic. The move also places the fast-food giant, which lagged behind in the race to introduce new technology like mobile ordering and payment, as a leader among chain restaurant companies in translating customer data into customized service.
Through loyalty programs and apps, companies have for years been gathering information on customers to increase visits and sales. But the chance to collect data and use it in a way to make a customer’s experience better and faster is still a relatively new frontier, said David Pierpont, an executive vice president at marketing firm Ansira. He said, “I think you’re going to see more and more. Everyone’s trying to figure out how can they leverage it.”
McDonald’s has had a smartphone app for several years, but it’s primarily been focused on delivering coupons and store location maps. The ability to order food and pay through the app, which is expected at all U.S. restaurants by the last three months of the year, is already in place — and spurring sales — in some of the chain’s international markets.
“The same technology advancements that are so dramatically changing the way that we live are also transforming the way we market today,” Global Chief Marketing Officer Silvia Lagnado.
The use of this technology will tell McDonald’s where its advertising dollars work, and where they could be better spent. And a new stand-alone advertising agency has been created to help put it all together.
We Are Unlimited, a four-month-old agency borne out of ad powerhouse Omnicom, the winner of a monthslong battle with Publicis Groupe for all of McDonald’s massive advertising business, handles all of McDonald’s national advertising, from TV and radio ads to digital spots and social media efforts.
Led by CEO Brian Nienhaus, the firm will be on the front lines of taking data gleaned from different initiatives and using it to find ways to better convince customers to visit McDonald’s.
“We worry about the customer, and about our client. And that’s really all we’re about: selling more burgers, building the brand and doing it in very tight alignment with McDonald’s,” Nienhaus said.