Want coffee when it’s raining? McD’s has an app for that

The QSR is experimenting with sending out personalized and predictive offers based on the weather, location and time of day.

McDonald’s Canada’s newly-launched app with user-recognition technology will give consumers the impression it knows what they want and when they want it.

The QSR’s app is the latest example of one that provides utility to consumers to keep them coming back, an element pundits like Nurun’s Audrey Carr say is key to make an app stand out in the crowded App-Store shelf.

Going beyond providing a restaurant locator or nutrition facts, the app, developed by Tribal Worldwide – Toronto, is aware of a user’s location, the time of day, weather and special holidays, and could soon provide personalized offers based on those factors. For example, in a video launched to support the app’s launch, a man standing in the rain receives a push notification offering him a free coffee at a nearby location. For now, the app isn’t offering coupons, but it does know the time of day (someone checking the app at 1 p.m. is greeted with the message “Lunchtime! You’ve waited all morning for this,” and shows images of sandwiches, while by 3 p.m. the home page greeting offers snacks like a hot fudge sundae and baked apple pie).

Shannon O’Rourke, senior manager, digital and media, McDonald’s Canada, says the app is just in its infancy and the QSR will expand the offering as it learns more about how people are using it.

“At this point, we’re experimenting with various types of messaging,” O’Rourke said in an email.

“We ultimately want to provide our guests with an app that knows them and provides the best of McDonald’s to them,” she added. “That goal requires a thoughtful approach to messaging and offers.”

When it does start providing weather-relevant offers, McDonald’s will be the latest company to personalize messaging based on the elements. Last year for instance, Molson, Weather Underground and Facebook teamed up to offer products mentioning the weather through Facebook ads, when the temperature was above 23 C and sunny.

The app also builds on McDonald’s transparency initiative, first introduced in May 2012 with the “Your Questions. Our Answers.” campaign, by offering a Meal Tray feature that lets someone compare menu items against their recommended daily intake of calories, fat, sodium and carbohydrates. Its restaurant locator helps someone find the nearest McDonald’s and even filters the locations by whether they have free Wi-Fi, a PlayPlace or drive-through.

The company intends to eventually make it possible to order and purchase items via mobile as well.

The launch of the app, available on Android and for iOS, is being supported by online video, banners, search, social and direct mail. Tribal DDB – Toronto worked on the launch campaign, while OMD handled the media buy.