For more than 30 years, there has been a much anticipated product on the McDonald's menu: The McRib. This grandfather of limited-time offers has been offered sporadically around the country on a local or regional basis. McRib lovers are such a rabid bunch that they created a website to help one another find the sandwich in McDonald's locations.
So what's the secret to McRib's cult following? Part of it is the anticipation. No matter what kind of business a marketer is in, a limited-time offer can help generate interest and bring customers through the door. "Limited-time offers help the goal of always having news -- it keeps a brand in the forefront of the consumers' minds," said Mary Chapman, director-product innovation at research firm Technomic.
Any retailer or company with a product or service to sell can benefit from fast-food's favorite marketing gimmick. Here are five key lessons for marketers looking to generate some buzz.
There's a reason why the terms "act now" and "while supplies last" have been over-used even though they are marketing cliches. "If you can't get it all the time, it raises the value of the product" and creates a call to action, said Ms. Chapman. Seasonality is a great option for creating demand, such as Edy's pumpkin pie ice cream during the fall or Mallomars during the summer.
Use limited-time offers to draw in a new type of
Wendy's has been using premium limited-time products in order to appeal to customers who would maybe otherwise frequent a sit-down restaurant or a fast-casual burger place. Take for example its back-for-a-second round limited-time pretzel bun, introduced last year for its pricier bacon cheeseburger and chicken sandwich. The move, said Ms. Chapman, lured in customers that were not among the chain's frequent visitors.