In the restaurant business, giveaways are as common as fire. But today’s premiums are hardly the same lures an operator might have used two years ago to draw customers. The freebies have changed in lockstep with consumer preferences, as this snapshot of recent examples attests.
McDonald’s toy replacement
Kids who goad Mom or Dad into popping in for a Happy Meal might be surprised by the prize they find. The toy has been replaced with a distant echo of adults’ FitBit or Apple Watch, a wearable step counter called the Step-It.
The intent is clear: If kids have some way of tracking their exercise, they’ll presumably be encouraged to drive up the score.
Mashable tried the Step-It and gave it a mixed review.
BWW’s gaming content
Buffalo Wild Wings hopes to shush a disgruntled investor in part by enticing customers with unique embellishments to a video game that debuts this fall. Patrons who visit a restaurant between Oct. 28 and Nov. 30, either to dine in or get takeout, will be provided with a code. The virtual pass enables them to customize their character in the about-to-be-released game Titanfall 2, and to get access to a multiplayer mode where they can win prizes.
Customers get a new code every time they visit.
Going to the dogs
A promotion that reportedly worked for the Good Times burger concept earlier this summer was a free sundae made with frozen vanilla custard and peanut butter drizzles. To get one, it’d help if you walked on all fours, could lick ridiculous parts of your body and slavered for the sundae’s secret ingredient: dog biscuits.
The Pawbender, which usually sells for $1.25 each, was provided free to every dog who came in with a human during June and July. If restaurants can reach parents by appealing to their kids, why not try the same thing with dogs?
The idea worked, according to CEO Boyd Hoback. “It’s an unusual approach for us, but it continues to allow us to connect our brand emotionally with our customers with a product that’s proven to be wildly popular over the past few years,” he told investors.
This week's head-spinning restaurant moments included a suggestion in court that the "b" in IHOb stood for "bad news for Applebee's." That's just one of the long-shot gambles that came to light as oddsmakers considered the likelihood of restaurants charging into sports betting and who'll win the chain vs. independent bout.