How Burger King stole McDonald’s customers with geofencing

If there’s one brand that epitomises the benefits of location intelligence and geofencing, it’s Burger King.

“McDonald’s little brother”, as the chain is often referred to, has a long history of goading its bigger rival in order to cut into its market share. In December 2018, Burger King took its rivalry to the next level with the help of competitive insights made possible by applying location intelligence specifically geofencing to its mobile marketing strategy.

How did Burger King steal McDonald’s customers with geofencing?

Burger King leveraged its mobile app in order to send alerts to any customers who moved inside a 600-foot ‘geofence’ of a McDonald’s branch.  The app offered them a deal to instead buy a Whopper for one cent from the nearest Burger King. It also gave directions to help them get there.

The promotion ran for a week last Christmas, and was supported by a #WhopperDetour social media hashtag as well as a cheeky video marketing campaign depicting confused McDonald’s employees receiving requests for Whoppers.

How successful was the campaign?

The #WhopperDetour promotion was a huge success. Burger King’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Fernando Machado estimated that customers redeemed the promotion at a rate of around 20 times more than any previous app offer.

The Burger King app also rose to first place in the iTunes App Store’s food and drink category as a result of the campaign, having previously been in ninth place.

What is geofencing?

The #WhopperDetour promotion was only possible using geofencing, a form of location intelligence that involves setting up digital ‘fences’ around locations important to your business. That could be your own premises, your competitors’ premises, transport hubs or specific amenities. You can then encourage customers to download your app and send them customised notifications and offers when they enter your geofenced areas.

Burger King spent about a year geofencing more than 14,000 US McDonald’s locations that were in close proximity to its own stores. They chose a 600-foot radius to avoid targeting customers too close to McDonald’s to change their minds (e.g. customers who may already have entered the drive-through), but close enough to make it worth driving for a few extra minutes to make the saving.

What are the other benefits of geofencing?

Geofencing has several benefits outside of sending real-time promotions to customers. It also helps you build a pattern of customer movements, and understand their routines. Geofencing can also help you assess overall footfall around you/ competitors’ locations and to assess whether this matches expectations. 

The information you can gather from geofencing has value above and beyond individual promotions. It can help you gain a birds-eye view of how people physically move around the spaces in which you operate. This, in turn, can enable you to make strategic decisions about your presence and activity in individual locations.

Learn how to leverage location intelligence for your business with Periscope® from Newgrove; sign up for a free, 10-minute demo today.