Iconic American burger chain White Castle has launched sophisticated technology developed by Kiwi mobile marketing company Plexure Group that will enable the fast-food company to target customers on a one-on-one basis.
The Auckland-based Plexure Group signed a deal with White Castle last year to develop and test a new customer loyalty app. After the Plexure platform increased customer engagement during the pilot scheme from 10 per cent to 250 per cent, White Castle pushed go, rolling out the technology across its 363 outlets.
White Castle is a 100-year-old brand that has earned international cult status after the release of the film Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Even The Beastie Boys sang about it, referencing the burger chain in five tracks on their hit 80s album Licensed to Ill.
Plexure's data-driven loyalty programme enables White Castle to know the individual buying habits of every customer, enabling the burger chain to target offers.
Put simply, once White Castle fans, or "cravers" as they're known, sign up to the app, the company can draw on millions of pieces of data to build a profile of each customer.
So White Castle can tell, for example, when a craver is at a sports field, that it's nearly lunchtime and that the customer usually buys a bacon and cheese slider, fries and a fudge-dipped chocolate brownie on a stick. Up pops a special offer on the customer's phone designed for that person alone, with directions on how to get to the nearest White Castle.
Plexure CEO Craig Herbison said the company, which now employs 160 staff, uses millions of pieces of data around customers' buying habits, personal preferences, how they live, what they like and their location. Plexure puts its technology to work and, using artificial intelligence, can create targeted special offers for the customer, driving foot traffic into retail spaces.
"So we take a huge group of people from being unknown to being quite intimately known, and that's incredibly valuable."
This year Plexure reached 200 million registered users on its platform in 60 countries, generating 750 million messages month.
"You need quite a lot of industrial-scale tech to run a platform of that scale," Herbison said.
The NZX-listed Plexure Group typically targets global brands, signing up another big customer last year - Super Indo, one of Indonesia's largest supermarket chains. Other clients include Loyalty NZ, 7Eleven, Ikea and McDonald's which began using the technology in 2015 and last year took a 10 per cent shareholding in Plexure.