Do you like McDonald's fries? If so, you can visit the fast-food chain on any Friday for the rest of 2018. If you don't like fries but do like sodas, try coming in on a Tuesday or a 
Thursday. McDonald's will give you a free soft drink on those days.

There are only two catches. First, you have to spend at least $1 at the store, excluding tax. And second, you need to order using the McDonald's mobile app--which of course means you need to have downloaded it to your smartphone. Each offer works only once per day, but you can keep coming in for free fries every Friday ("Fry-Day"--get it?), and a free drink every Tuesday and Thursday for the rest of the year, if you so desire.

Not interested in fries or sodas? There's more. If you order five coffee beverages, you can get the sixth one free. Or you can get any sized coffee for $1--both deals are good any day for the rest of the year. Or, between now and the end of September, you can get most sandwiches for $1, or a second coffee beverage for a penny when you order a medium or large one. There's yet more--you can see the full list of offerings here. And if you still can't find something you want, there's even the option to vote on a deal for the following day. Again, to get any of these deals, you must use the app.

If you're getting the feeling that McDonald's really, really wants you to use its app, you're right. The fast food chain has pinned its hopes for the future on attracting Millennials, who want the convenience and speed of app ordering (as well as delivery by UberEats, which McDonald's also recently began offering). Increasing app adoption is a big part of that strategy, and even though the company said last fall that 30 million people had downloaded the app and nine million were active users, it's hoping to get a lot more on board. And it's willing to give away a lot of free food and drink to make it happen.

Increasingly, McDonald's is competing with Starbucks, which has offered mobile ordering and app-based deals for a lot longer than McDonald's has, and it has 14.9 million members of its loyalty program, which you have to join to get freebies from Starbucks. Once you do, you can amass points or take part in "app challenges" to gain freebies, but except on your birthday, you won't get free stuff just for ordering with the app the way you can at McDonald's.

Will this strategy work in the long term for McDonald's? Probably. And once it has everyone ordering from its app, it won't have to give away quite as much free stuff. So get yourself some free fries and sodas in 2018--while they're still there.

Published on: Jul 19, 2018
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.