The Best Customer Experience: Instant Gratification

Safety activists and nutritional experts may want to ban them, but if you ask consumers, McDonald’s Happy Meals just make them happy. When hawkeye, a digital agency, asked 362 consumers to rate some 20 brand experiences for general favorability and purchase intent, three loyalty programs tickled them more than any others: McDonald’s legendary Happy Meals, Amazon Prime, and My Starbucks Rewards. All shared a common trait: instant gratification.

“In each case the customer experience is delivered close to the actual purchase,” notes John Tedstrom, manager of insight and strategy at hawkeye, “Amazon Prime makes the purchase process easier because the shipping is free once you pay $79 a year fee. Progressive’s Snapshot program, by contrast, is not connected to the sale. You plug the device into your car and you can get a discount based on your driving, but it comes much later.”

Amazon Prime won the highest ratings from consumers with a combined favorability/purchase intent score of 503, followed by Happy Meals at 447, and My Starbucks Rewards with 318. The bottom three—all with scores under 100—were Progressive Snapshot, American Express Link Like Love, and Disney Fastpass.

Programs that fell in the middle of the pack most likely ended up there because of pricing or lack of wide-ranging appeal, Tedstrom says. Nike’s Plus program, which monitors athletic performance with a computer chip in a shoe, requires purchase of a $149 wristband, he notes, and consumers have to spend a lot to earn a lot in the Sony Rewards program.

As for Happy Meals? It’s the experience that will keep on giving as long as its detractors are held at bay. “The parents all loved it when they were kids,” Tedstrom says, “and their kids love it now.”

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