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McDonald?s tests NFC to drive in-location engagements

McDonald?s is testing near-field communications technology as a way to drive mobile engagements inside one of its restaurants.

The NFC strategy, called The Happy Table, is currently in place inside a McDonald?s in Singapore. The target audience is children, who can hold a mobile phone over a table to activate a mobile game.

?It is a good step for them to engage customers in a low-friction way,? said Tim Daly, co-founder of Thinaire, New York. ?It will create engagement with kids who will want to stay longer and come more often.

?The app will be a gateway between McDonald?s, parents and kids,? he said. ?It is a new distribution channel that they can remarket back to.

?I think they are going to drive in-store traffic. They are going to bring more people in and the people will stay longer which I believe will result in higher revenues.?

Mr. Daly is not affiliated with McDonald?s and spoke based on his experience in mobile.

McDonald?s worked on the program with advertising agency DDB, which was not able to respond by the press deadline.

Happy engagements
For The Happy Table program, McDonald?s is placing NFC stickers underneath its dining tables inside the Singapore location.

Customers must first download the McParty Run mobile application. Once it is downloaded, they can hold their NFC-enabled Android smartphone over a table and see Ronald McDonald and other characters from McDonaldLand come to life.

Users can also move their phone around the table as if it were a go-cart on a race track to harvest burgers, collect fries and fight Hamburglar and Captain Crook.

The goal of the game is to help Ronald McDonald organize a party for the folks of McDonaldLand.

The Happy Table program is the latest example of how McDonald?s is embracing mobile, including NFC, which it is testing as a way to enable customers to pay for their purchases.

In-store experiences
While fast-food restaurants quickly jumped on the mobile bandwagon to advertise to users, this McDonald?s effort is an example of how these businesses are increasingly looking to mobile to drive in-store experiences.

?What we are seeing is an extension of the restaurant of beyond the traditional front door,? Mr. Daly said.

?You can create an instant social network within the QSR borders where customers can play a game together and interact,? he said. ?For example, could run a promotion where people can check in with a NFC device, allow to say they are there and then someone could send them a beer, with the whole thing sponsored by a marketer.

?I am seeing more and more of that kind of execution in the last few weeks.?

Retailers such as Walmart have lead the charge towards giving customers a way to interact with them via mobile while they are in store.

The strategy makes sense for quick-service restaurants because their audience often consists of younger consumers, who tend to be big users of mobile.

Using NFC in-store also gives these restaurants a way to encourage customers who have already shown an interest in their product to spend more.

?In-store engagements for upsells, and managing consumers buying habits have been in place through print for quite some time, now that children, teens and twenty-something?s are all on mobile, it definitely makes sense to transfer the in-store engagements to interactive activities that would further, yet subtly enhance the consumers buying habits even further,? said Marci Troutman, CEO of Siteminis, Atlanta.

?Mobile is starting to play a significant role in QSR?s and will continue to ramp up as strategies are defined by brands further, and the data extracted along with consumer engagement shows growth,? she said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York