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Blog / 2011 / July / Free WiFi and Thinking Outside the Bun
July 20, 2011
Free WiFi and Thinking Outside the Bun
by Oliver Kent   |   0 COMMENTS

Taco Bell is the latest national Quick Service Restaurant group to offer WiFi as a customer draw. However, helping to keep the customer connected when they run for the border seems to be just one part of their bigger marketing plan. Delivering targeted content bundled with entertainment adds to their new approach of point of purchase merchandising.


The WiFi in this case seems to almost be an afterthought. The biggest part of this marketing plan will be the entertainment system being offered in partnership with Indoor Direct. This will give Taco Bell branded television piped into all of the stores that allows for targeted content to be delivered while customers watch. This type of split screen television watching is nothing new and some version of it can be seen in nearly any hotel lobby.


The media outlets that picked up the press release all lead with the WiFi angle of the story but again, that seems to just be an add on to the TV roll out. Adding in-store TV is not really newsworthy and I don't think it would actually increase visits on it's own. It is of course a nice new medium for point of purchase marketing for the chain to reach guests that are already in the building. If the system can also double as a form a digital signage then they may have a winner. On the other hand, there are heaps of case studies that show that WiFi does in fact increase visits and I imagine that this is the reason why this marketing initiative got any press at all.


So why the much larger expense and effort focused on adding TV? The release does not offer information on whether or not the WiFi will also offer branded and targeted content. If it does not, then Taco Bell is truly missing a huge opportunity in their whole point of purchase marketing initiative. Managed WiFi can easily and cheaply offer the same results for their in-store marketing plans as a standalone service. Instead, they are opting for something that will be thousands of dollars per location which of course curtails a fast system wide roll out.


Adding the high-priced branded TV service at 5,600 locations will cause the roll out of free WiFi to happen over a period of 4 years. Upon completion in 2015, McDonald's will already be 7 years ahead in the WiFi game. So I have to ask, is the TV portion worth being that far behind the competition? 

filed under WiFi Strategies