Carl’s Jr, Hardees — Mobile Apps That Make Good Business Sense

From ClickZ — “Having announced their intentions to do so earlier in the year, fast food restaurants Carl’s Jr. and Hardees have launched a location-based mobile application to reward loyal customers. Parent company CKE Restaurants said the company chose to build its own application, as opposed to partnering with existing location-based providers such as FourSquare, Gowalla, or Facebook Places.

The app, dubbed Happy Star Rewards, is now available on the iPhone and Android platforms, and invites users to check in when they dine in either of the restaurants. The first check-in earns the user a spin of “The Wheel of Awesome,” ” (Full ClickZ article here)

And I say: finally!  This is a great idea for an app, especially for brands like fast food who have loyal customers and others who choose from a selection of restaurant choices.  As I wrote in a post a few months back, branded apps provide a huge opportunity for customer loyalty, much more so than pairing up with a broad generic provider. If I know that every 3rd visit I have a chance to play a game on my iPhone and maybe win a burger, there is a much greater chance that I will become a loyal customer.  And once CKE has developed experience with customer usage of the app, the opportunities for seasonal promotions and other 2nd generation tweaks are solid.

The argument for branded mobile/social apps vs big platforms like Foursquare is easy to make.  Remember the web malls of the early Internet boom?  I do because cause I ran business development for IBM’s World Avenue.  The problem was, the brands that were in our mall were much more likely to gain atttention on their own than by subverting themselves under an IBM branded service.  The comparison will hold true for those brands willing to take the time to build the right strategy and deploy the right app.

(But we did have a lot of fun and I made a lot of good friends there)

Congratulations to Carl’s and Hardees for getting the recipe right.  Now if only there were a Carl’s or a Hardees near me…I am a big fan of the “Famous Star.”

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