Imagine customizing your own meal at a restaurant, sharing the creation with your entire social network, and earning points whenever someone orders it – points that can then be used toward future purchases at that same restaurant.
This is the social ordering strategy at the heart of 4food, a socially networked quick service restaurant poised to take New York by storm on July 6. On this date the first of 11 planned 4food locations will open for business. Appropriately, the first 4food restaurant will set up shop on Madison Avenue (at 40th) – a street that has bred some of the most innovative marketing and advertising campaigns of modern times.
We caught up with Adam Kidron, Managing Partner at 4food, to learn more about how 4food works, where social fits within its corporate strategy and how the idea of the W(hole)burger™ (an innovative twist on the classic dish) was born.
[360i]: How does your social ordering strategy work? Where do social check-ins fit in?
[AK]: Here’s how it works:
- Step 1: Build a burger (there are over 141 million combinations).
- Step 2: Make Your Burger Famous, by naming it and then marketing it to your friends using our suite of social marketing tools.
- Step 3: Your burger is entered into our product database and given a unique SKU.
- Step 4: Every time your burger is purchased you receive a 4food quarter in your 4food account.
- Step 5: Hit burgers are featured in-store and online on the Buildboard Chart.
- Step 6: Come back to 4food to order build more custom burgers or spend your earnings.
Customers can check-in X times a week to earn a 4foodie Merit Patch and double the value of the intelligent coupons on their smart receipts.
[360i]: Do you put a lot of emphasis on your own corporate marketing strategy, or is the bulk of your marketing based on consumer-generated word of mouth?
[AK]: In our context, with a single location (for now), corporate marketing/brand marketing is a waste of resources that are better deployed “dejunking fast food” (serving great tasting natural products at reasonable prices). Our strategy is to put smart social marketing tools in our user-guests’ hands, and fast, fresh, nutritious and delicious whole foods in their bellies – and bet (heavily) on positive word of mouth. Our risk is that our product disappoints, which we do not see as a risk at all.
[360i]: Do you anticipate social media to play a major role in customer service, too (in addition to promotion), and how will that work?
[AK]: An intelligent profile engine matched to our recommendation engine personalizes the 4food shopping experience for each of our customers. Data captured from user-generated marketing (i.e. social sharing) of “User Builds” add to the accuracy/relevance of recommendations. Smart Receipts itemize the nutritional content of each order, and contain coupons to incent purchase of recommended items.
In addition, the in-store customer service experience is people-driven, with “Hawkers” employed to teach guests how our tools work and how to get the most out of our menu.
[360i]: Do you see mobile playing a greater role in your strategy moving forward?
Given that 79 percent of the people on Earth will have mobile handsets by 2012, it would be ludicrous to ignore the enabling power and convenience of mobile apps (Mirae Asset Handset Outlook, 2009).
However, today we only have one location and the vast majority of our guests will come from a quarter-mile radius. So, for the next six months, our focus will be on in-store and web-based applications. We plan to introduce iPhone/iPad, Android and Blackberry apps early in 2011.
[360i]: Which companies/brands do you admire most when it comes to using social media to build connections with consumers?
[AK]: We like:
- Applications that do not replicate offline behavior.
- Following airlines and other ticketing services on Twitter as it reduces costs.
- Blendtec for its nutty “Will It Blend” YouTube videos.
- Starbucks for MyStarbucksIdea, where customers voice their ideas how to improve the Starbucks experience, which are then voted on by other customers, and occasionally implemented
- Burger King for encouraging its customers/Facebook users to sacrifice 10 of their friends for a free a Whopper, which led to 20K users sacrificing 200K friends.
- Innocent Drinks for the Big Knit on Flickr (you had to be there).
- Puma for showing everybody that the one that got away cannot be put back in the box.
[360i]: What’s your favorite burger? And how did you come up with the idea to cut the hole in the middle and create the W(hole)burger?
[AK]: That’s like asking me what my favorite song is – it depends on the day, time, season, and my mood, as the choice is almost infinite.
The idea for the W(hole)burger came from a conversation I had with the head of product development at a major fast food chain at 30,000 feet. He told me mid-flight that the reason that fast food burgers were invariably over-cooked, was that the patty center had to be heated to a Listeria-proof 161 degrees. The problem nagged at me. The solution I came up with was to punch out the center hole, which I found enabled the patties to cook quickly and evenly. This (somewhat legendary) story is animated at www.4food.com/story.
Will you try out 4food when it opens in July? Let us know in the comments below.