In 2012, TGI Fridays, with help from The Richards Group, refreshed America’s most iconic bar and grill by returning it to its roots as a highly sociable bar. To reintroduce the brand by refocusing its efforts back to the bar, we went straight into the palm of our audience’s hands – their smartphones – and launched a new and innovative mobile app.
It’s obvious that mobile technology is becoming more and more prevalent. In an industry that is constantly changing, TGI Fridays wanted to be ahead of the technology curve and provide customers with a world-class mobile app experience.
Many casual dining restaurants released mobile apps in early 2011 with a cookie-cutter experience and a simplistic to-go ordering system. Fridays was faced with a challenge to not only build a mobile app in a concise timeline, but to create an experience that was a cut above the rest.
The key objectives were to deliver a top-of-the-line, visually appealing app for customers to connect with the brand, to keep customers engaged and interested in Fridays, and to provide users an efficient way of paying their tab directly from their device.
To break away from the casual dining restaurant industry, Fridays did not want to follow the trend of offering to-go orders, but wanted to reinforce the social interaction found between the staff and the patron during the order process. So instead of just offering a subset of the menu, we included our complete food and drink menus and focused on a customer pain point – the payment process and waiting to pay the bill at the end of a visit. That insight became the inspiration for the new app and its key feature – “My Fridays TabSM” – a way for users to pay their tab with just a few taps.
To help launch the application, we created an iAd to drive overall new brand awareness and engagement and to prove that Fridays was ahead of the technology curve by providing a link to download the Fridays mobile app. The application also includes a store locater, integration with social media, and full food and drink menus.
The iAd included a video demo of the My Fridays Tab functionality as well as examples of Fridays Bartender Wisdom, both of which are included in the mobile app. The demo depicts how simple the mobile payment functionality is, while the bartender wisdom provided a fun way for consumers to see Fridays as a highly sociable bar. The functionality within the iAd emphasized that Fridays was ahead of the curve and a cut above other casual dining restaurants.
Users were also able to download the app without exiting the iAd experience. After downloading the mobile app from iAd, users were able to share their experience and promote the mobile app through a tweet or emailing their friends.
In June 2012, we were tasked to integrate Fridays’ robust and proven rewards program, Give Me More Stripes®, in just 64 days. This new functionality enables an existing member to check their balance, request Rewards, view and show Rewards Certificates to their server, and request stripes credit via bar code scanner or manual entry from information on their receipt.
Our continuous updates give users a reason to engage with the app. We launched an exclusive offer in the fall of 2012 that incentivized app downloads and drove traffic: Receive a free appetizer when they download the mobile app. The promotion drove an increase of 71.2 percent for downloads, and 20 percent of those who downloaded the app redeemed the offer. Because of the success of the campaign, we decided to launch “App for an App” and are receiving results similar to the initial promotion.
After launching in April 2012, we were able to generate a significant amount of downloads in a short period of time. By late June, we had exceeded our initial year-end goal of 83,725 downloads. The app had only been live for 64 days.
The download goal was accomplished 34.5 percent of the way into the app’s duration for the year and used approximately 38 percent of the promotion media weight. Apple devices accounted for a majority of downloads at 64.1 percent, and Android accounted for 35.9 percent of downloads.
In May of 2012, the TGI Fridays app was recognized as the #1 most downloaded app in Apple’s Free Lifestyle Category, and recognized as the #1 app in the iTunes “Food and Drink” category shortly after in July 2012.
Throughout the iAd promotion, the application continued to be downloaded an average of 6-7 percent more times than the previous day since its launch. Our iAd implementation performed well above the industry average. The tap-through rate is strong at 0.77 percent, and the amount of time spent engaged with the ad unit is averaging 105.0 seconds, far exceeding Fridays’ and Apple’s expectations. The iAd media execution is directly credited with 1,888 app downloads.