Little Caesars may have lost a bet on March Madness, but they still came out as winners. The pizza chain promised free Hot-N-Ready lunch combos if a No. 16 seed beat a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It seemed like a safe gamble—an upset of that caliber hadn’t happened in 135 games—but on March 16, No. 16 University of Maryland-Baltimore County beat No. 1 University of Virginia in the first round. So Little Caesars made good on its word, and promptly announced the “If Crazy Happens” giveaway.
On Monday’s championship game day, an estimated 1,000,000+ customers lined up at Little Caesars around the U.S. to get their hands on a free pepperoni pizza. Obviously the turnout was impressive, but we wanted to see if the payout on such a huge promotional campaign was worth it. We got some answers by using our market intelligence tool BrandGeek®—the fastest, most accurate source of behavioral data linked to customer feedback in real time. Here’s what we found out:
Little Caesars won big in visit share
By analyzing data collected from 48,000+ visits—during 11 AM and 2 PM on Monday, April 2 compared to data collected from the 4 previous Mondays—we discovered Little Caesars had a huge jump in visit share. When being compared to 20 of the largest QSR/fast casual brands, Little Caesars previously held only 0.8% of the share, ranking last. On April 2, that soared to 6.4%, beating out 14 of the top 20 brands.
The campaign drew new customers
Free lunch is a pretty great motivator for people to try a new place or return somewhere they haven’t been in a while. Our data showed 29% of the “If Crazy Happens” customers hadn’t been to a Little Caesars in over 12 months, giving the brand a chance to impress new patrons.
The promotion also attracted more people age 25–34 with lower incomes (≤$40,000) who aren’t fully employed. Given the special was only available during such a short window, which means long lines and wait times, it’s not surprising full-time employees—with less flexible schedules—made up less of the share.
Almost all satisfaction scores increased
The influx of lunch customers had a negative impact on Speed of Service—visit times were 70% longer—but most agreed it was worth the wait. Every other measure improved. Staff Friendliness and Overall Value jumped several percentage points, but perhaps the most impressive is Taste of Food increasing as well, keeping the “hot” in Hot-N-Ready.
Customers didn’t hold back with their rave reviews of the promotion:
“Free pizza due to March Madness. Crazy busy in the store but the staff was amazing, thanking each person for coming in. No crabbiness at all.”
“They were doing free pizza and a drink, so I went for that! They were extremely busy, but service was still fast, efficient, and friendly. Very impressed. Thank you!”
”What a wonderful experience. There was free pizza due to March Madness and they had us in and out within 20 minutes with friendly employees. Going back again.”
Scoring big with special promotions
Brands have a great opportunity when it comes to promotional campaigns. When handled the right way, they can successfully show appreciation to loyal customers, draw in a new crowd, and showcase products and services. Having access to behavioral and feedback data can help brands develop the proper operational strategy to achieve these goals.
If you’re interested in learning more about BrandGeek, check out our short video.Derrick Cline | Customer Insights Manager