McDonald’s Takes QR Codes Beyond “Marketing”

By | November 11, 2014

QR Codes aren’t just for sending people to a web page to sell stuff. That’s how most companies use them, but marketers who truly understand the value of these codes don’t pigeon-hole them this way. McDonald’s is one of them. I saw three QR Codes in use on the same day.

  • Drink cup
  • “To go” bag
  • Drive-through window

McD QR CodeI forgot to scan the QR Code on the bag. But the one on the cup took me to a location that matters a lot to me — the nutrition information (calories and fat). Since I don’t carry my laptop with me in the car, let alone have it open and connected to wireless at the drivethrough window, having the QR Code connect me to a mobi-site with that information was really helpful. Now it’s bookmarked on my phone.

Think having the calories readily at my disposal will help encourage me to buy at McDonald’s rather than its competitors? Absolutely.

The QR Code in the drivethrough window promised me a free hamburger for filling out a customer satisfaction survey by scanning the code. Did I take the survey? Yes. Would I have done it if I had to hang onto the receipt long enough to get home and find time to log in on my laptop? Probably not.

Getting customers to engage with the brand through a customer survey helps to deepen customer loyalty. Being given a free sandwich helps to deepen customer loyalty too, both by reinforcing the consumer’s taste for the food and by making them feel valued. McDonald’s cares enough to give me something for filling out the survey. Not a chance to win something (which 99.9% of people never will), but an actual sandwich.

These are just smart ways to use QR Codes that fit perfectly into the lifestyles and habits of McDonalds’ consumers. What can you help your customers learn from them?

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5 thoughts on “McDonald’s Takes QR Codes Beyond “Marketing”

  1. George

    I think that QR codes have been misunderstood since the introduction. Many folks believe that since there are no human readables on them, that they could be malicious, which is a possibility. However, the way that McDonald’s is using them is rather conventional and convenient. Recognizing that a large percentage of folks have smart phones, this is an easy way to distribute nutrition information about their products. I need to monitor my intake daily, so having information like this is very valuable to me and will influence me to view McDonald’s in a favorable light. McDonald’s corporation has done an excellent job (IMO) in distributing information about their foods. Make no doubt about it, if your diet consisted solely of their food, you could have health issues. But for the occasional consumer, this information is gold and goes a long way to informing the buyer just what they’re getting.

  2. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    I agree that this is very conventional for many brand marketers. But in this industry, too many people see QR Codes as primarily (or exclusively) for taking prospective customers to websites to buy something. This industry still has yet to embrace the concept of QR Codes as mainstream ways to communicate with customers about anything and everything, whether directly related to a sale or not. Consequently, QR Codes get pigeon-holed and opportunities get lost.

  3. Tom Kenny

    When you received the coupon for answering the questionnaire, did it come electronically and could it be scanned at the drive thru window? It seems to me that a QR code that provides you a coupon is a great use for 2d codes. Especially if the provider can scan your phone or use NFC at the register.

  4. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    Honestly, I don’t know because the REST of the campaign had a fatal flaw —it required a ton of information from the receipt which got lost after I went through the drive-through. Instead of the store number and date, as most surveys require, the offer required multiple long strings of numbers from the receipt. This includes numbers with acronyms I don’t recognize. So it just goes to show that if a campaign falls short of expectations, you can’t always blame the code!

    I would imagine that, had I been able to finish the survey, the coupon would have been mobile. That’s how I seem to be receiving all of my mobile-response survey coupons lately, and it just makes sense.

    Granted, they don’t want duplicate responses or they’d end up giving away billions of sandwiches, but these codes can recognize individual mobile devices. They could simply have set it up so that the phone was recognized on the back end so that there could be only one response per person.

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