Industry News | March 15, 2013

Zoës Kitchen Gets a L.I.F.E App

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For a brand whose name literally translates to life in Greek, it’s fitting that Zoës Kitchen’s new mobile L.I.F.E app is meant to help consumers get the most out of theirs.

The L.I.F.E. app features four primary components: A goal-setting option that allows guests to set and track personal goals, while earning free prizes from Zoës when those goals are reached; a nutrition calculator; a store locator; and a rewards program that allows guests to upload their Zoës receipt to earn prizes and discounts for future store visits.

The Zoës team went to work on the app nearly a year ago, but Rachel Phillips-Luther—Zoës Kitchen’s vice president of marketing—says the brand spent a lot of time questioning whether it even needed one in the first place.

“There’s a lot of marketing teams and businesses that assume because others in their vertical are moving toward a particular piece of technology that perhaps they need to, as well,” Phillips-Luther says, adding that Zoës didn’t want to be this type of company.

But once it reached out to consumers and realized their desire for a Zoës app, it decided to dive headfirst into the project.

To begin, the brand looked at mobile apps that its core demographic—busy women with families—regularly downloaded and used, including apps like Pinterest, Pandora, and banking apps.

From this discovery, Phillips-Luther says the brand knew it wanted to create an easy-to-navigate and practical app that “helps make life a little easier.”

In addition, Zoës made it a priority to create an enjoyable app. “We knew that our consumer was looking for something that’s going to make them smile,” she says.

“That’s really been what makes Zoës so unique in its space,” Phillips-Luther adds. “There’s a warmth and a genuine element to what we do every day that I think people really feel, so we didn’t want to create a piece of technology that didn’t share that same kind of warmth.”

Phillips-Luther says the chain came across several challenges along the way, most of which could be attributed to the small brand’s limited budget. This made it difficult to find a partner who could create the concept’s vision without a high price tag.

“But when you’re aggressive and young and driven—as a concept, those are the things we are—that you’ll eventually meet partners like yourself,” she says.

Fortunately, it found the perfect partner in Relevant Mobile, a developer of customized mobile apps for chain restaurants.

Another challenge stemmed from the brand’s desire to create a rewards-based component that would be lucrative, meaningful, and allow the brand to show the guests how much it appreciates them while “not being detrimental from a financial perspective,” Phillips-Luther says.

“There were competing demands from the guests and from the operations perspective,” she adds. “Finding and navigating that path and trying to arrive at real projections … was a tough one.”

But Phillips-Luther and the rest of the Zoës team expect their time and financial investments to pay off, and in multiple ways.

“I’d love to see one to two additional visits per year from each of these app users,” she says. However, an additional component of the L.I.F.E. app—a guest satisfaction survey users are asked to complete upon submitting Zoës receipts for prizes—could have more far-reaching effects.

“We previously did not have a guest satisfaction tool in place, and to go out and purchase one … is costly,” Phillips-Luther says, adding that the brand’s typically affluent customer made it hard to use conventional satisfaction surveys prompted by receipts.

“Because we deal with a more affluent customer, the likelihood that they would go back to their desk or their home and actually log in and complete something for a chance to win a $100 gift card … was slim to none,” she says.

“So this provided a really easy way to deliver those guest satisfaction metrics to our operators and allow us to continue to stay at the leading edge of providing incredible service without having to go out and engage an additional third party to provide that for us.”

Phillips-Luther says it’s this advantage in particular that will help the brand recoup the cost of investment and giving away free and discounted food on the app.

In the end, it also satisfies both customers and the brand’s team members, she adds. “We wanted to deliver goodness to our guests and to our operators by giving them the information they craved and needed.”

By Mary Avant

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by QSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.