I interviewed Rick Wion, Director of Social Media at McDonald's USA to see what is happening in the QSR sector with New Product Launch driven by Social Media and Location Based Wi-Fi services.
New Product Launch using Social Media
Most recently brands are using social media as the primary or only launch mechanism. Barilla used Social Media exclusively for their new line of microwave pastas, Red Mango launched Honey Badger Flavor and Heinz used Facebook as a pre-launch for their Balsamic Vinegar Ketchup. How does McDonalds look at social media as a primary new product launch vehicle?
According to Rick "We are looking at all ways to use social media for as a mechanism for New Product Development…. We get over 2.5 million mentions per month! Since there is so much conversation we need to delve into what our community is talking about and these feed into our new product development process." The term for this is "crowd-sourcing".
Rick said a great example of social media in new product launch was Fruit and Maple Oatmeal product launch last year. "We went the route that this product would appeal to moms and wanted to build awareness with them before product launch to build or make some early fans of the product to help support and get the word out when it launched in January 2011. Therefore, while the product was still in the test phase, we created key sampling opportunities by inviting 10 bloggers to our McDonalds headquarters as part of a day field trip to tour our offices and learn about some of the new upcoming food menu items, such as Fruit & Maple. Additionally, we also got the produce into the hands of additional bloggers at Blog Her around the same time we invited the mommy bloggers to McDonald's headquarters in 2010 leading up to the launch.
Rick said they received valuable early feedback from influencers and had a set of fans to spread the word. They had a great nutritional profile and needed to embrace those influencers in their product.
Loralees Looney Tunes blogged about her morning work-out routine and her after- workout treat was getting an oatmeal at McDonalds. This is a great example of a reward at the end of routine.
Location Based Initiatives - Influencing Shoppers Behavior
Location based services are moving beyond FourSquare. Most recently WiFi Networks like Boingo are looking to create these networks to create personalized shopping experiences for Smartphone enabled consumers. Since McDonalds is everywhere I wondered if they are looking to establish platforms like this?
Rick said that "This is something on the radar and we have several tests in the works. Since we offer free WIFI at 14,000 McDonald's restaurants nationwide, we really want to determine how to build broad awareness for the brand. We want to get on the right side of the curve and not just to do it for the technology but look at the future opportunity of what works best for the customers". This is a great example of truly focusing on solving a real consumer problem and not just what a brand thinks the problem may be. I asked if they were going to test mobile payments like Burger Kings is doing in Utah and they are working with this as well.
In continuing the efforts to get new fans and customers to sample their new products at BlogHer12, McDonalds is letting bloggers try their new Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie. Currently this product is not nationally distributed and the hope is this product resonates with
The Digital Shopper is Changing the Landscape
Here are questions I pose regarding Mobile/Digital efforts driving either of the following consumer behaviors:
- Are location based systems the motivator to break into the consumers routine and stop in to order food and potentially use Wi-Fi in the store?
- Or are other communications driving consumers to McDonalds as they linger to use Wi-Fi and while "online", location based systems can influence future behavior on your next visit?