McDonald's touts tech advancements and digital BTS initiative after delivering strong Q2

The company's digital system-wide sales across the top six markets were nearly $8 billion in the first-half of 2021, a 70% increase versus last year.

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McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski attributed a significant amount of the company's success in Q2 to their digital efforts as many restaurants continue to recover from the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. 

During the company's earnings call this week, Kempczinski said McDonald's digital system-wide sales across the top six markets were nearly $8 billion in the first-half of 2021, a 70% increase versus last year. 

The CEO explained that over the last few years, McDonald's has added more service channels for delivery, curbside pickup kiosks, and table service. 

But the crown jewel of McDonald's digital offerings is the global mobile app, which Kempczinski said "evolved our customer experience from the physical world to the digital world." 

"As this evolution continues, our digital offerings will become even more important to serving, interacting with and delighting our customers around the world, and the insights generated from these platforms will help us further improve their experience," Kempczinski said.   

"Our marketing power and scale will continue to be critical throughout this journey, turning the various customer touchpoints into a holistic and compelling brand experience. But our aspirations are even higher...We need to create a more frictionless customer experience across all our service channels." 

Kempczinski added that at some point, McDonald's customers should be able to move between in-store, takeaway and delivery service channels that are more convenient and personalized. 

McDonald's hired Manu Steijaert -- the company's first chief customer officer -- to lead the creation of a team managing the end-to-end customer experience.

Over the last 18 months, Kempczinski noted that McDonald's digital customer engagement, global marketing, data analytics, and restaurant solutions teams "have worked to standardize our infrastructure, and align the system against some common frameworks." 

The work led to the creation of My McDonald's rewards, the company's first global digital offering, which already has 22 million active users in the US. Kempczinski added that McDonald's has the most downloaded QSR app in the US.

The company noted that one particular initiative involving Korean pop group BTS was wildly successful, driving average check growth and growth in delivery as well as digital platforms. The BTS initiative drove sales in the US, UK, Canada and dozens of other companies.

"This quarter, the BTS famous order took that ambition global, connecting our marketing, core menu and digital strategies in 50 markets. And it was our first famous order with custom packaging and app exclusive content. It has been to borrow a BTS lyric dynamite," Kempczinski said.

"In China, comps were strong for the quarter, but have yet to return to 2019 levels due to COVID resurgences in Southern China, resulting in operating restrictions. The market continues to build its digital member base with a successful My McDonald's app launch and focused delivery expansion in the breakfast and evening day parts."

The partnership with BTS led to a social media trend where fans of the band ordered McNuggets on the app and posted photos of it on social media, driving it to the number two trending topic on Twitter globally at one point. 

CFO Kevin Ozan added that the loyalty program helped drive digital adoption and greater frequency of visits of loyal customers. 

"We have seen that digital engagement will generally drive people and the loyal customers, certainly, to return more frequently than they would have otherwise," Ozan said. "So the digital engagement is just another piece of the whole ecosystem."