Applebee’s Uses QR Code to Increase Lunch Traffic 10%

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July 19, 2012

Many restaurants across America are asking diners to leave their phones on during their meals. These restaurants are using multi-channel campaigns to entertain you and even talk to you while you wait for your meal to be prepared.

Applebee’s with its QR Code® enabled campaign is one of those restaurants. While there are many organizations using QR Codes in their cross-channel marketing, few are leading diners to a landing page that is buzz-worthy like Applebee’s.  Printed material at the table utilizes a two-dimensional code that delivers a page with a Persian cat that tells jokes for two minutes.

Applebee’s campaign and the landing page don’t disappoint unlike so many QR Codes® that lead you to a page that makes you wonder why you bothered. Too many campaigns lead to a page asking you to opt-in to a list but offering no reward or incentive?

Applebee’s multi-channel campaign was developed to increase lunch sales among that targeted audience that wanted food fast and good – think about the quick stop at Chipolte or Panera because you don’t want to be late returning to work. Staff members told the diners about the promotion as they were seated and shown a three-sided tabletop tent featuring a 2D code where the cat’s mouth should be. Those who scanned the QR Code® were immediately taken to an animated video of the lower half of the cat’s face.

By holding up their phone to the table tent, they watched and listened to a cat entertain them for two minutes – all part of filling the precious gap of time while their drinks are being retrieved and meal prepared in less than 14-minutes.

Table Cat QR portion of the campaign has seen a very high level of activation — 30,000 in the first months, and 65,000 to date — indicating its popularity with the public. The agency that came up with both the lunch guarantee and QR campaign reports that their client saw a 10% increase in lunch traffic and nearly a 5% rise in total lunch sales during the campaign.

To avoid frustrating rather than entertaining diners, the agency put the You Tube URL just beneath the QR Code so patrons could access the video even if the scan failed to render the video properly.

Applebee’s also included the Table Cat video on its Facebook page where it received 6,000 likes.

Other Ways Restaurants Can Engage Customers with QR Codes

These little 2D barcodes are helping to reshape the way restaurants communicate with customers. Beyond Applebee’s successful lunch campaign, here are eight other ways restaurants are educating and engaging customers.

  1. History: Be it a national chain or local mom and pop diner, customers love to know the history. QR Codes are a great way to connect customers to that information.
  2. Nutritional Facts: Patrons appreciate being able to make well-informed meal selections. Because nutrition facts can take up a lot of inventory, use QR Codes to take them to the ingredient lists and nutritional facts.
  3. Recipes: If you’re not guarding the recipes, share them with a QR Code that takes patrons to a video showing the preparation of the meal or the complete recipe.
  4. Coupons/Specials: Consider creating a QR coupon that can be scanned to reveal special discounts or offers. The patron can show their smartphone displaying the ad to the cashier or server to get the deal.
  5. Customer Surveys: Add a QR Code to the customer’s receipt that leads him/her to a survey to complete along with a reward for doing so. This is an invaluable way to learn more about their experience so you can make improvements.
  6. Location: QR Codes can link to Internet sites, which include Google Maps. Consider creating a webpage that has your contact information and a Google Map to direct patrons to your eatery.
  7. Events: Lead your patrons to a web page that displays your upcoming calendar of events. The QR Codes can allow easy access to events and allow consumers to download the calendars to their phones, ensuring they have the info they need to attend the event at the time of the event.
  8. Education: If you own a restaurant that does something special and sets it apart you can share these attributes or any distinguishing techniques in a promotional video that makes for efficient, ongoing marketing.

So the next time you eat out, don’t leave your smartphone in the car. You may need it for a coupon, entertainment, a free download or entry into a drawing. Prepare to scan, drink and be merry.

QR Code® is a registered trademark of Denso Wave

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