Archive | August, 2012

LBS Marketing Spotlight: Restaurants

28 Aug

With today’s consumers always connected and always looking for convenience, it seems obvious that that restaurant owners would want to engage them on the mobile battlefront. New data from Nielsen found that 47 percent of all smartphone owners, used mobile apps Shopping/Commerce category in June. While these results are not specific to restaurants, they indicate that consumers want deals, and that they want to easily interact with businesses without having to jump through hoops.

Creating Loyalty
Restaurants that want to stay ahead of the curve need to utilize their mobile apps as a source for offering programs for loyal diners. According to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Industry Forecast, 57% of adult consumers are more likely to choose restaurants that offer a loyalty rewards program. Meanwhile, 40% are using smartphones to look at menus and order take-out.

Whether you build your own app or choose to use of the vast array of mobile and location-based solutions in the marketplace, is a difficult question.  Whatever your decision, digital menus, restaurant locators and online ordering are now the bare minimum that consumers expect. Serious thought should be given to location-based deals, group discounts, mobile payments and loyalty program integration. However, a restaurant that wants to create true loyal customers needs to integrate all of your program elements to the app as well.  Make sure you allow diners to check their point status, receive rewards and be able to store them in one place.

One innovative way example of this is Kansas City-based Front Flip.  The company has essentially created a digital punchcard system that owner/operators can use to incent sales during slow times and reward repeat business for loyal customers.

According to CEO Scott Beckner “Users can download Front Flip, then scan Flip Codes at participating retailers to get a virtual scratch card that offers a chance at a prize. For businesses, Front Flip offers access to customer data and helps them keep and reward customers through targeted mobile outreach.” Companies like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Hooters, 54th Street Grill are already using it.

Track and Target Your Best Customers
A loyalty program that’s integrated in a mobile app can track based on frequency or spend, depending on what fits your restaurant best. You can tailor personalized offerings to their app based on what you know about them from their activity. Then you can fully understand your best customers and reward them for their patronage within one centralized system.

Extending loyalty to payments
It’s not only about rewards and specials to incent customers, but increasing about making it easy to transact too. In April the TGI Fridays chain released new apps for iPhone and Android that lets customers start a tab, keep track of their bill, and pay it right from their phone. Currently, 350 of the chain’s 600 locations nationwide are now accepting the new mobile payment method.

“This new app puts the Friday experience at guests’ fingertips – whether they’re looking for the closest Friday’s to celebrate and indulge or if they want to pay their bar tab quickly,” Ricky Richardson, chief operating officer at T.G.I. Friday’s, said in a statement.

The app’s payment functionality is powered by a platform called TabbedOut, which launched earlier this year at SWSW in Austin, Texas. The app automatically integrates with Friday’s point of sale software, allowing customers to pay their bill without the need for additional hardware.

These are just a couple of examples of how restaurants can start engaging customers using mobile and hyperlocal services, but it’s clear that mobile marketing is going to be key for restaurants in the future.


Location-Aware Games Are Engaging Consumers — And Marketers

7 Aug

According to a new research by, more than $12 billion was generated by mobile gaming in 2011 with 34% of the top grossing apps in the app store leveraging a freemium model.  Once someone is hooked, they’ll continue to spend a few dollars to continue to enhance their play. On average freemium games make $12.92 a month per user. This type of behavior is what is making the business of games so profitable.

Now marketers are jumping on board by advertising with the big players. Rovio‘s Angry Birds makes $6 million per month from ads alone. The next step could be more brands teaming up with game developers to create popular mobile games. Not only could it make a tidy profit, but it will get more eyes on its product.

Not long ago, Rovio added location-based integration to enhance game play for users when they visit real-world locations. The feature, called Magic Places, builds off a previously announced near-field-communication feature for certain Nokia phones, allowing a very limited number of users to unlock additional levels when they tap two NFC phones together or tap an NFC tag at a location.

With Magic Places, when users arrive at a location with GPS-enabled smartphones, they are able to trigger new content such as Mighty Eagle, the most powerful character in the game, as well as a raft of never-before-released game content.Users are then further able to compete with other players on a localized leaderboard for each venue. Stepping back, Rovio is looking to turn Magic into a broad platform that will be built into all of its products, spurring real world interactivity through NFC, GPS, and other technologies.

In a recent interview, a product manager for Angry Birds Magic, Ramine Darabiha, said “the idea for Magic Places is to build more fun into the game, turning what is often an activity played in isolation into something you do in the real world. He said Rovio is not interested in turning every location into a “Magic” venue, but is looking to use the location option selectively to enhance game play for users. The key is to find places that complement the game and make the experience more memorable for users.

One retail brand already taking advantage of Magic Places is Barnes and Noble.  Last summer the company announced that you could take your Nook Color into a physical Barnes & Noble store and use the Mighty Eagle for free to clear levels in Angry Birds. The Angry Birds Nook app costs $2.99, but there is no cost for using the Mighty Eagle in stores.

This kind of partnership can become a great method for retailers to drive additional foot traffic and sales, while at the same time helping gaming companies that rely on in-app purchases to grow their revenues through retailer subsidy.

Two weeks ago, the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles got into the game by also partnering with Rovio. The Wall Street Journal reported that an Eagles-themed spinoff of the game is in the works, and that we can also expect to see many of the game’s explosive birds appearing on the scoreboards at Lincoln Financial Field after Philadelphia sacks, touchdowns and the like.

And even Starbucks customers playing Angry Birds on their smartphones could soon get access to free content and see their high scores reflected on an electronic leader board, if a reported partnership comes through in the next couple of months.

Starbucks has ramped up its in-store digital offerings recently, looking to make use of its WiFi network and customers’ increasing use of digital devices. The coffee retailer has long offered a free song download with a beverage purchase, but recently has started to offer free apps, book excerpts and maybe even TV shows and mobile games.

The concept however, isn’t limited to Rovio and just big brand retailers.  A new startup called Kiip recognizes that people hate ads but like free stuff. It’s a concept that has fuelled enough growth that it now requires a digital wallet for users to keep track of all the offers on the network

Essentially, Kiip says that when you perform well in mobile game or app, you can be rewarded with a free coffee or a music download or whatever makes sense.  Best of all Kiip doesn’t build their own games or apps; they simply layer their platform on top of others, helping to monetize them.

Apps like MapMyRun, HomeRun, and MegaJump have already started using it.  This means that any developer and any brand (big or small) can get on board with mobile gaming and rewards that drive business.

It’s clear that the relationship between the worlds of mobile gaming and bricks and motor retail is just beginning — but what a fun and exciting way to engage new customers in the things they’re already doing!