Only one thing typically comes to mind when you think of Publishers Clearing House. But the company says it has more to offer than giant checks delivered by the Prize Patrol. In a new report, PCH is urging fast food restaurants to deliver not million-dollar jackpots, but more coupons and deals to their customers.

In the world of fast food, “customer loyalty often extends only as far as the next incentive or reward,” reads the report by the Media Division of PCH. In “Attracting New Customers and Creating Greater Loyalty is What’s on the Menu for Quick Serve Restaurants“, the company argues that fast food restaurants need to keep the discounts coming, or risk losing customers to competitors that do.

For instance, among those surveyed for the report who said they prefer McDonald’s, nearly half could be enticed to switch to Burger King or Wendy’s – if the price is right.

PCH found that nearly half of the people it surveyed said a coupon offer is the main driver that would lead them to try a new restaurant. A rewards program would encourage 20% to try out a competitor. And promotions and TV commercials were way down the list, leading PCH to conclude that “customers respond to monetary incentives and rewards far better than advertisements”.

About half of survey respondents also said coupons and savings were the number one reason they would use a restaurant’s app. A third were attracted by loyalty rewards, and far fewer would download an app just so they could pay in store with their phone.

And rather than merely sending out coupons in the mail or in newspaper inserts, PCH says restaurant apps could represent the best way to offer deals. “Restaurant apps have become essential tools in keeping customers coming through the door as they provide the vehicle to deliver continuous promotions and cost savings,” the report found.


And if restaurants are not offering apps or a constant stream of deals, “they can be assured that the competition is, and will be using them to lure new customers to their restaurants,” the report said. “it’s a constant game of one-upmanship.”

“It’s a vicious cycle that never ends because as soon as one brand stops offering an incentive, there is another one to fill its place,” said Steve Bagdasarian, General Manager of PCH’s Media division. Fast food restaurants, he said “need to focus their efforts on attracting new customers and then making it more attractive for them to stay than to try out the competition.”

Burger King got a lot of buzz last month when it offered a promotion that was seemingly aimed squarely at McDonald’s fans. People with the Burger King mobile app could get a Whopper for just a penny – if they placed their order through the app within 600 feet of a McDonald’s. As fast food fans get hungrier for deals, creative promotions like this one could be just what it takes to keep them interested.

The U.S. fast food industry, PCH points out, is predicted to be a $223 billion business by next year. And while about a half of those it surveyed said they eat fast food at least once a week, a quarter said they do so less than once a month. That’s a big potential set of customers who could be enticed to visit more often. “Creating programs that appeal to this audience and incentivize them to increase their frequency of visits is the next big thing,” the report predicted. “Whoever gets there first will have a significant advantage.”

Attracting and retaining customers is about more than just the quality of the food and the dining experience, then. PCH says it’s about deals – and lots of them. “Our data shows that consumers have a willingness to be loyal, but that they need to be incentivized for that loyalty to stick.”

So if you have a hankering for a burger and fries or some takeout pizza, don’t settle for paying full price. If fast food restaurants take PCH’s advice, it could become easier than ever to get a good deal. You may not end up getting a big check from Publishers Clearing House. But if the company can help you to save a few bucks on your fast food – you may still end up a winner.

Image source: McDonald’s

One Comment

  1. Great concept, except these apps fail to consider that orders can’t be tailored to the users preferred tastes. For example, I like my iced coffee with no ice, 2 cream, 4 shots of liquid sugar. I can’t do that on the app. Also McDonald’s app never works. There are so many connection issues that it isn’t worth the aggrevation. Bigger factor is driving time. Till you get to a fast food joint, either your food is cold, or gets mixed up with someone else’s. Twice I’ve used to order online app and both times my food ended up in the trash.

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