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It’s been a staple of the fast food industry for years. Say a customer were to walk into a McDonald’s and order a Big Mac; the cashier would instinctively ask, “Would you like fries with that?” That one request by the customer automatically triggers a response that often leads to an upsell. If the customer answers, “Sure,” and orders a medium fries, his order value just increased by $1.79. Now throw in an offer for a medium Coke as well and his total order goes from $3.99 for the Big Mac alone to more than $7.

In asking that one simple question, the pimply-faced, minimum-wage-earning teenager behind the counter at McDonald’s just engaged in a rudimentary form of a very specialized kind of marketing in which offers are tailored in

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