Forget the 4 for $4, Wendy’s Has a New Deal on Its Menu


Wendy’s (WEN) – Get Wendy’s Company Report competes with key rivals McDonald’s (MCD) – Get McDonald’s Corporation Report and Restaurant Brands International’s (QSR) – Get Restaurant Brands International Inc Report Burger King using an interesting mix of being different while also copying its rivals. The chain built its business around its square burger, a shape that founder Dave Thomas picked to illustrate that Wendy’s does not use frozen beef.

“Wendy’s does not cut corners when it comes to freshness,” was never an official slogan, but the shape was meant to convey that idea. It was a clear message to show that Thomas wanted to follow the McDonald’s and Burger King model while doing what they do a little bit better. 

That has continued to this day with Wendy’s attempt to unseat McDonald’s in the breakfast space. Sandwiches like the Breakfast Baconator and Wendy’s biscuits look like what McDonald’s offers, but they’re made with fresh-cracked eggs and offer a slightly upscale take on the items that make up its rival’s menus.

Being at least a little different has been the Wendy’s model, but now the fast-food chain wants to copy something that has worked really well for McDonald’s and it’s willing to offer free french fries and chicken nuggets to get you to do it.

Image source: Wendy’s.

Why Is Wendy’s Offering Free Nuggets and Fries?

Wendy’s wants customers to download its app. That makes sense because McDonald’s app/loyalty program has been a major sales driver for the chain.

“Loyalty is the single biggest driver of digital adoption, and MyMcDonald’s Rewards has exceeded expectations in terms of enrollment and participation. After just 6 months in the U.S., there are over 30 million loyalty members enrolled and 21 million active members earning rewards,” McDonald’s CEO Christopher Kempczinski said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call.

Wendy’s has lagged behind its key rival (although maybe buy not as many loyalty members as you might think.

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“Our U.S. digital business accelerated throughout the third quarter, exiting with a digital sales mix north of 8%,” Wendy’s CEO Todd A. Penegor said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call. “This was, once again, driven by gains in mobile ordering and our strong delivery business. The growth in our mobile ordering business was supported by successful acquisition campaigns, which increased our total loyalty program members by approximately 10% compared to the second quarter, reaching almost 19 million.”

McDonald’s app/loyalty program drives more sales than Wendy’s program has. “Our top 6 markets saw more than 1/4 of their system-wide sales or $18 billion come from digital channels in 2021, a 60% increase over 2020,”  Kempczinski said,

That makes it clear why Wendy’s would not only want customers to not only download its app and join its loyalty program but also use it.

How Is Wendy’s Trying to Drive App Adoption?

Wendy’s has offered free fries and free spicy nuggets (for a limited time) in order to entice customers to download its app, join its loyalty program, and make digital purchases. To make this happen, the fast-food chain will literally give members free fries every single day.

“Our fries are so good, we’re giving a medium-size out with whatever else you buy—and we’re doing it every single day, too…Get our app. Get the daily offer,” the company said on its website.

To further entice app downloads Wendy’s also has a short-term offer available from Feb. 2-6 where customers who use the app to order get a free 10-piece Spicy Chicken Nuggets with any other purchase, Chewboom reported.

“We remain fully committed to our digital journey and expect continued growth in 2021 and for years to come,” Penegor added.

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