The Chick-fil-A app promotion boosted app downloads by 14,285% in one day

By Abhinav Agrawal

The Chick-fil-A app promotion boosted app downloads by 14,285% in one day

Getting downloads for your app is one of the biggest challenges for any developer in the app store. Tens of thousands of apps are launched on a monthly basis but very few manage to gain any significant number of users. Most app publishers resort to a combination of paid marketing, social media outreach, promotions, word of mouth marketing, and media coverage to drive downloads.

Chick-fil-A tried an innovative strategy for its recently redesigned and relaunched app by giving away a free chicken sandwich to anybody who downloaded or updated the Chick-fil-A app and created an account between June 1 and June 11.

Eat More Chikin: Get More Downloads

The promotion was a blockbuster success. The app went from approximately 1,500 downloads per day before the campaign started to around 400,000 downloads per day when the campaign launched on June 1. That’s a 26,566% increase in downloads from one day to the next!

In fact, the Chick-fil-A app was the #1 most downloaded app in the United States that day. The increased download volume dissipated after June 11 with the end of the promotion, although the steady state it settled into is still higher than what it was before.

The eleven days of the campaign resulted in approximately 3.4 million total downloads. To put it another way, 1 in every 100 Americans downloaded the Chick-fil-A app during the promotion window. That’s truly incredible for a fast food franchise with only 2,000 or so stores concentrated in the southeastern United States.

Comparing it to the apps of other Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) like McDonald’s and Chipotle, we can see that none of the other apps experienced the download spike (ruling out any other exogenous factors besides the promotion).

Who is the audience?

A look at the average audience for these apps reveals that the typical user is 32 year old woman with a high school degree making ~$62,000 in household income. The Chick-fil-A average user has more income than the average McDonald’s user, but has a lower average income than Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts app users.

Did all of those new Chick-fil-A app users keep engaging?

As we can see by looking at the DAU/MAU chart below, many users downloaded the Chick-fil-A app but they didn’t necessarily sustain their usage at very high levels on a daily basis over the next few weeks. Of course, for this category of apps, one doesn’t expect daily or even weekly usage from users. The goal from Chick-fil-A’s perspective was to build a large audience that may use the app to look at menu choices or pre-order from the app. This large audience can also be reactivated using push notifications or email for any future promotions or product launches.

Who are the biggest players in the Fast Food category?

The QSR category has ~27M monthly active users (MAU) in the United States. After Chick-fil-A’s promotion, it is now one of the top 3 players with ~25% category penetration. Starbucks–which has one of the most successful food-related mobile apps–and McDonald’s are the other top 3 players.

The top 10 players in the category along with their metrics are included below. One interesting callout is that the coffee apps (Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts) are used more days/month than the fast food apps (coffee needs trump food needs!). The full list of QSR apps and metrics is available here on SurveyMonkey Intelligence.


The Chick-fil-A marketing campaign proves that traditional toolkit of marketing campaigns like giveaways and sweepstakes can drive success in the mobile marketing world as well. Until now most of the top downloaded apps in the store have been driven by viral flows (e.g. text message invites or email invites), word of mouth messaging (e.g. games), big brands (Facebook, Snapchat) or paid advertising campaigns.

It will be interesting to see if other players try and emulate this strategy of promotional discounts as an incentive to download going forward.

This post originally appeared on July 15, 2016 on the blog of SurveyMonkey Intelligence, a provider of competitive intelligence on mobile apps.

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