McDonald’s finally announced that it would be releasing its first mobile app for customers — almost two years after announcing that it had plans to do so — thereby baffling everyone as to why the corporation even bothered creating one at all.
If there are two modern essentials that Americans can’t live without these days, it’s their fast food chains and their smartphones. Chains like Starbucks and Chipotle have already figured that out and have created mobile apps that allow customers to check nutritional information, “check in” to earn points through a loyalty program, and even place orders through their phones before arriving at the store.
Indeed, something as small as earning points for ordering food on an app is often enough to convince customers to patronize one business over another. And McDonald’s finally decided to get on board.
According to the International Business Times and Associated Press, McDonald’s announced on August 11 that it would begin offering the mobile app to smartphone users in the San Diego area. The company planned to launch McDonald’s Mobile in New York City as well, but customers in NYC cannot yet order food or pay via the app.
Steve Easterbrook, CEO of McDonald’s, told the AP that it took the company so long to release an app because it had actually developed one prior to McDonald’s Mobile, called McD, which did little more than provide customers with coupons and discounts.
The current app allows customers to check nutritional information of items on the menu, place and pay for orders, and subscribe to a loyalty program for McCafe drinks. According to the Chicago Tribune, McDonald’s announced that its app is in a testing stage right now and will be evaluated and tweaked before the company releases it nationally, which should be happening this October.
But is McDonald’s really doing enough to promote its app? It’s no secret that the chain is falling behind other fast food conglomerates; just last month, the company admitted that sales had fallen for the seventh straight quarter. Not only is the company trying to build up its own brand, but it’s also trying to market a new app while competing with other chains that have been operating mobile apps for years.
“A company’s brand and its ability to market a mobile app have no relationship at all,” says Ola Danilina, CEO/Founder of PMBC Group. “Whether it’s a world renowned brand or a new startup brand, the same type of marketing is needed to reach their demographic/user base. For an established brand, it is a little easier to do since they already know their customers and can market directly to them. For a new brand, they need to pinpoint their demographic first and then market to them. McDonald’s will most likely start marketing the app to their existing clientele, by including the advertisement on containers, bags, trays and tv screens.”
At this point, it seems unlikely that McDonald’s app will prove to be anything out of the ordinary — but if any industry can turn an unlikely product into a global success story, it’s certainly the American fast food industry.