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McDonald’s Hackathon Seeks Millennial Engagement

Filed under Digital, Millennials

By Monday, McDonald’s will have discovered the app that will best digitalize the restaurant experience and engage Millennials.

That’s the goal, at least, of McDonald’s three-day Hackathon—organized by BeMyApp—being  conducted today through Sunday (Nov. 23) in London. “If you are a developer, designer, startup-er, student or just passionate about new technology, register to come and be part of reinventing the restaurant digital experience in just 48 hours,” according to the event’s site, which invites participants to bring pajamas and sleeping bags.

The goal is for participants to work together to create “an innovative idea related to engaging digital in the McDonald’s restaurant experience.” The site offers these app suggestions: “How do you keep the McDonald’s Millennial customers after they leave the restaurant?” “How do you reward our key Millennial customers? How do you incentivize them to keep coming back without offering discounts, coupons o promotions?”

McDonald's explains how to use Apple Pay.

McDonald’s explains how to use Apple Pay.

A McDonald’s spokesperson told Marketing magazine that the Hackathon is intended “to involve our customers, experts and the wider public in our innovation processes, and specifically around digitalising the restaurant experience. The restaurant is the home of our brand and the physical experience we have there is key to how our customers engage with and love our brand.”

McDonald’s has made it clear through hiring and resource allocation that it intends to be the technology leader in the restaurant business. It named Atif Rafiq its first Chief Digital Officer and set up an office in San Francisco to work with tech giants. The chain recently partnered with Apple Pay for payments at both the counter and drive-thru.

During its Q3 conference call last month, President-CEO Don Thompson said the company intends redirect nearly $100 million to long-term growth initiatives such as its digital programs and “Experience of the Future,” which he said would involve broad, digital engagement elements.

A McDonald’s app is already under development. “We did a major test in Australia to look at the actual global application what we call the global app, which is built upon our new-path technology system and allows us to continue to add on different applications to support various needs from pay and order to other things such as music,” Thompson said.

“That global app will be launched in 2015 with some of the promotional offers in the U.S. and we will continue expanding the already established mobile applications that we have in some of the markets outside of the U.S.”