This article was originally published November 28th 2012
I am one of those people who has their iPhone in their hand basically every moment of every day. I’d have it in my hand right now if my hands weren’t busy typing this. I have spent hundreds of dollars on apps over the past few years and I’ve lost interest in a lot of them quickly and have downloaded apps for dozens of businesses and found many of them pointless. I’ve gone out of my way to find some really good apps for local businesses in Melbourne where I live and the one that stood out the most to me is one that I’d been using already for several months, the Hungry Jack’s Makes It Better App (or simply the “Hungry Jack’s App” as everyone calls it).
For anyone reading this who doesn’t live in Australia, Hungry Jack’s is basically the Australian franchise for Burger King (due to that name being used already by someone else here). This app came around April/May 2012 and grew very rapidly among the iPhone community due to the way it works.
This app features a “Check-in & Win” feature (this is the part people care about), a store locator (which I’ve never personally used) and a menu with a nutrition calculator (which I’ve never used). There is also a settings feature (will talk about this later).
How it works
To check-in and win you must be within 1 km of a store and allow the app to check you in there on Facebook for your friends to see. Most people will agree that it is worth sharing that you’re at Hungry Jack’s with your friends for a chance at free food. You then have to shake your phone and animation of a ticket printing out with a prize on it will come out.
Image lost to time
You check-in on Facebook and it will post to your wall, it will even do this if you do not actually claim the prize.
Image lost to time
It will then make you shake your phone around for a while until a ticket prints out, this is actually annoying to do and wastes time. It is especially annoying if you are in the car getting takeaway or if the person at the counter is waiting to take your order.
Image lost to time
When the animation is finished printing your ticket you get to see your prize, if you claim the prize a staff member will press the “Done” button, do not press this yourself.
I am not sure if any factors determine the prize but I have had a few theories but some have been proved wrong. I do think that if I use the app too frequently the quality of the prizes drop though. After over a week of no use (I was at Pubcon in Las Vegas) I won a Buy 1 Get 1 Free Bacon Deluxe voucher, then the next day I got a Medium Coke. I’ve also been told that it will depend on the store, it is best to go to less popular stores to get a good prize (there seems to be some kind of prize allocation limit for good prizes).
- Free Whopper (no other purchase necessary)
- Buy 1 get 1 free Bacon Deluxe (my favourite)
- Free Bacon and Egg Muffin (breakfast time only I’d assume)
- Free Medium Coke (though the total of the meal came to a similar price in the end)
- Half price your order for orders under $30
- Free Sundae (bad because I unlocked it after midnight and the machines were in their cleaning cycle)
- Free Frozen coke (same as above, but nice staff member substituted for normal Coke, though that is a much cheaper price)
I can’t remember what other prizes I have claimed but I have claimed 27 prizes according to the settings tab (as of 28/11/2012). The only reason these prizes were bad was that they were given at times that they were not obtainable. I haven’t done a late-night check-in a few months or two to check if they have since fixed this. This is the kind of issue that is easily overlooked in product testing.
I recently got a Bacon and egg muffin at breakfast time. This was interesting because it indicated that time-based prizes exist, I think they may have been added recently though since I am sure many people have had the same issues as me.
When technical issues occurred with this app, the Hungry Jack’s Facebook page did a great job at responding to problems and getting people to email in for help / to try and get their prize. I never bothered following the entire processes since I don’t care that much.
How this app spread
I am pretty sure I got this app the day it came out or soon after (it was a Friday), one of my friends made me download it and we all got free Whoppers on our way out to a bar. We were very happy and posted about it on Facebook and told people at the bar to download it and try it out as there was a Hungry Jack’s nearby.
Over the next few days the newsfeed was littered with people checking in to Hungry Jack’s and people were commenting on the posts asking what it was, or if people were familiar, everyone was asking “What did you get?”.
Image lost to time
The random prizes generated discussion from people. People liked the sound of these prizes and wanted to get the app themselves. This app was originally only available for iPhone and just came out on Android as well, there was a debate about how iPhone users get everything good first, there were all kinds of discussion generated from this app. Android users begged for the app on the Hungry Jack’s page. Everyone wanted a piece of it.
This app has changed the way many users choose their fast food. Right now as I write this, I checked into the nearby store from my office to see what prize I got. It wasn’t something I needed right now (I am hungry) and it was a free medium Coke. This would be fine if I was already in the store, I’d definitely get that with my order, but since I have a fridge full of Pepsi Max already, I’ll walk in the other direction to get pizza instead. Hungry Jack’s still got me to share their link on my page though and didn’t even end up having to give me anything. Even though I didn’t claim my prize they still win. I could go and remove the link if I wanted to though. But this could be done at any time. There also seems to be an option to not post to your wall in the settings, but I am happy to share a link for a free feed, so I won’t do that.
Learnings from this app
If you want people to use your app it has to be useful. Some apps people make are simply store locators or a mobile version of their site. Why would someone look you up in the app store and download you when they can just do a search on their phone’s built-in browser to find store locations or just asking Siri? It has to have something awesome that will make people want to tell their friends. I guess for the fast-food industry, this is a no brainer. Free food and, of course, Hungry Jack’s have nailed this. I am surprised no competitors are doing this (I am aware of a group of Melbourne McDonald’s have their Pickle Club app and that Dominos and Pizza Hut both have apps for ordering, but Pickle Club is not well spread enough and probably never will be. I tried one of the Pizza apps a while ago when I was on the train. I wanted to try and get a pizza ready in time to collect it from the store which is right near the train station I was getting off at. The app stuffed up a few times and I had to redo my order and by the time I got to my stop, I still hadn’t even ordered my food so I just went elsewhere. The phone carrier could have also been to blame, but it was a bad experience for me and I didn’t bother using it again.
If you have a retail store, maybe you could generate a random discount on check-in, maybe you could even get the app to tailor discounts to you from your Facebook data (is that possible?) eg. You like Star Wars in your favourite movies. Maybe it could generate you a discount on Star Wars items? Or it could just give you a 10% off voucher for items totalling under $100 or something. The generic discount would be easiest though.
Don’t just make it share to Facebook, make it spark discussion.
Make the app do something that cannot be done with a simple Google search
Would you use this app yourself? Is this app worth taking up space in your phone and will you keep it organised near the front of your phone?