The US fast food giant has launched a scheme with online auctioneer eBay, enabling customers to bid on a range of goods from CDs to tickets using reward points. Winning customer loyalty in the fast food restaurant industry is a tricky business, and this initiative is sure to turn up the heat. Whether it will prove a success, however, is less certain.
Burger King will reward loyal customers with the fast food equivalent of frequent flyer air miles.
Burger King is to launch a new loyalty scheme as its latest initiative. The fast-food chain plans to offer reward points, similar to air miles, to customers who will be able to use them to bid online for goods at auction site eBay. Burger King has been busy of late, introducing new sandwiches and announcing expansion plans. All the changes come in the context of a possible management buyout from Diageo, which is seeking to concentrate on its drinks business.
It’s a natural evolution, says Chris Clouser, Burger King’s new marketing chief. We’re getting into online marketing in a big way. This brand building on the Internet sees a clear change of direction for fast-food marketing, which has previously been dominated by price promotions and free ‘giveaways’.
Developing loyalty, or attracting/winning new customers, in what is essentially an impulse channel is a tricky business, as it requires changing consumer behavior. The element of impulse in the purchasing decision needs to be reduced, allowing the brand to play a greater role.
The loyalty scheme may be one solution, but rivals are sure to launch similar schemes if it proves successful. Archrival McDonald’s has already been testing an electronic loyalty card in Hawaii for three years. The fact that this hasn’t been rolled out perhaps highlights the difficulties in making these schemes work.
The online aspect of Burger King’s plan will either be its cutting edge or its Achilles heel. It will allow targeted marketing of specific consumer groups if properly executed and targeted – but many companies have wasted their advertising dollars on ineffectual online marketing plans.
Burger King has made an interesting move and if customers go for it, and it is well executed, then the chain may just get the much-needed boost that it has been looking for. The new loyalty scheme may also push others to similarly come up with more sophisticated new marketing tactics.