McDonald’s Hopes Mobile App Can Super-Size Your Spending By Tracking What You Buy

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McDonald’s is looking for ways to reverse its decline in customer traffic and appeal to younger consumers so it can stay relevant. While fresh beef and functioning ice cream machines are important parts of the fast food giant’s future plans, even more important will be a mobile ordering app that will let it collect data on customers and offer them carefully tailored deals and upsells.

McDonald’s is already behind its quick-serve peers in offering mobile ordering and app-based loyalty programs, and plans to have ordering by app rolled out nationwide by the end of this year.

The Chicago Tribune explains that McDonald’s has a lot riding on this app. Widespread adoption could mean cutting back on the staff who take orders at the counter and in the drive-thru. More importantly, it means being able to push coupons to customers and make customized recommendations.

If it creeps you out that McDonald’s is depending on analyzing your every order for its future success, you can still place an order with a human being and pay with cash. However, the chain will probably tempt you into downloading and trying the app with an irresistable deal.

Younger customers are more comfortable with giving their information away, and people in the loyalty program industry have found that most people ultimately don’t care as much about having their habits analyzed they claim.

“[Consumers] say they don’t want to give everything away, but they’re on Facebook, they’re on Google,” an executive with a marketing firm that doesn’t currently work with McDonald’s told the Tribune.

In international markets where the app is already running, it’s used to make money-making recommendations, like adding a milkshake to a customer’s weekly Big Mac order. The sneaky part is that the next time that customer returns for her regular order, she can just re-order the last meal she had, and it will automatically include that milkshake upsell. Customers usually just place the same order again, which is probably why the chain has high hopes for the app in its biggest market.