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Qdoba spices up loyalty program with mobile rewards

Qdoba, a Mexican "fast?casual" quick-service restaurant franchise specializing in burritos, has added a mobile rewards program to its traditional loyalty card program.

The restaurant chain tapped Tetherball, which specializes in mobile loyalty and rewards services, for the launch of Qdoba Mobile Rewards. Qdoba will use Tetherball's mobile loyalty platform to expand on their existing loyalty program to make it easier for their customers to get offers.

"Qdoba, like most brands in the QSR business, is looking for new ways to more effectively reach their target audience to drive more traffic to their stores and ultimately increase market share and revenue," said Jay Highley, president and chief operating officer of Tetherball, Indianapolis, IN.

"Qdoba participated in a trial program with Tetherball and quickly realized that mobile was extremely effective at reaching their target audience and quickly decided to expand the Tetherball program to include additional stores in their portfolio," he said.

"Qdoba Mobile Rewards program is a long-term strategic move for Qdoba and they are committed to making mobile an important part of their overall marketing mix."

Qdoba Mexican Grill, formerly known as Z-Teca, is owned by Jack in the Box, having been owned and expanded by ACI Capital until 2003.

Tetherball's permission?based text messaging mobile marketing platform allows brands to interact with customers through their mobile phones.Tetherball clients such as Qdoba can access real-time analytics and reporting on program performance and redemption through Mobiquitous, Tetherball's Web-based analytics platform.

Brands are beginning to recognize how powerful out?of?home marketing can be when combined with mobile.

The Qdoba Mobile Rewards program kicked off at an Indianapolis market festival, during which nearly 20 percent of festival attendees engaged the mobile program, indicating strong acceptance of offers made via mobile.

Consumers are alerted to text "BURRITO" to 474992 to join the program.

POS material with the mobile call-to-action is present in the store locations.

For the festival in Indianapolis, Qdoba participated in a parade, bringing attention to the program.

Qdoba is also doing a big push to promote the mobile rewards program at the 4th of July Centennial Wireless Fireworks Spectacular in Ft. Wayne, IN, where the company has a restaurant.

Qdoba has been testing a number of different opt-in offers and proceeding offers to test consumer response and redemption, such as buy-one-get-one-free mobile coupons.

"Qdoba targets an under-40 demographic, but even more importantly, is looking to reach their customers in a more intimate and relevant way through the Tetherball program," Mr. Highley said.

"By engaging their most valued customer via mobile, Qdoba is staying top of mind at a critical time when people are on the move and making purchasing decisions of where they want to eat," he said.

Downloading of special software or a mobile data plan is not necessary. Tetherball's platform works on any mobile phone.

Tetherball claims that its clients' mobile loyalty programs have seen up to 24 percent redemption rates on initial opt?in offers followed by 10 percent redemption rates on proceeding offers -- substantially better results than the less than two percent redemption rates offered by traditional paper and online coupons.

"One of the most important challenges Qdoba faced was reminding customers that they have great breakfast, lunch and dinner selections in a very noisy world of clutter and competition," Mr. Highley said.

"Qdoba was also trying to make sure that customers know where their locations are within a market, as they enjoy strong brand recognition but felt that customers often didn't realize just how close a location was to them," he said.

"Through the Tetherball Mobile Loyalty solution, Qdoba has not only improved brand awareness but also ?location' awareness."