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“47% of restaurant customers use at least one loyalty program,” according to a recent study from PYMNTS and Paytronix, Delivering on Restaurant Rewards. From January 2021 to April 2021, there was a 12% increase in restaurant customers using loyalty programs, and the usage of loyalty and rewards programs was more pronounced among customers of quick-serve restaurants (QSRs).
Restaurants of all kinds, including fast food chains, QSRs and fast casual venues, are sifting through the consumer data that emerged during the pandemic. Because of the increase in online ordering, restaurants now often know how a meal was ordered, who ordered it and when it was ordered. Order frequency provides insight into whether or not customers are going to stick around now that dining options are less constrained, and many fast food and QSRs marketers are digging into this data.
For restaurant marketers looking for ways to incentivize customers to choose them, loyalty and rewards programs can offer an array of benefits, in support of both customer acquisition and retention. For starters, loyalty programs facilitate the creation of email lists and CRM databases for restaurant brands, providing restaurants with a way to secure, analyze and deploy first-party data time and time again, even as more of the ordering happens in person instead of online.
White Castle Gives Consumers Seamless, Easy Transactions With Craver Nation Loyalty Program
“Our goal was to make a more direct line from our customers to what they crave,” said Jamie Richardson, Vice President of White Castle, about the creation of the brand’s loyalty program, harkening back to when White Castle introduced the concept of “fast food” carry-out in 1921. White Castle’s loyalty program, Craver Nation, launched in September of 2020, and it has already “exceeded targets,” said Richardson. As is the case with most loyalty programs, Craver Nation is most beneficial when used with the White Castle mobile app. Using the White Castle app, Craver Nation members can customize their orders, refine pick-up and location details, enjoy special offers and seamlessly make payments. Craver Nation members can cash out their rewards in person or in app. Tying rewards programs to app adoption, can encourage app downloads and allow brands to reach consumers in app with limited-time promotions and personalized deals.
A loyalty program is only as good as the customer service experience it offers, and White Castle appears to check all the boxes for an effective loyalty program. Shyam Rao, CEO at Punchh, a loyalty and engagement platform, noted that customers want loyalty programs that offer convenience and ease of use, where they “can order ahead, seamlessly accrue points and capture offers tailored to them and their ordering history.”
Chipotle Launches New Loyalty Program Upgrade With Limited-Time Video Game Activation
Chipotle recently announced that it was leveling up its loyalty program with the launch of Rewards Exchange. “Through the new Rewards Exchange, Chipotle Rewards members can unlock more rewards, more often. Previously, Chipotle Rewards points exclusively went toward free entrees, but now members can choose to exchange Reward points for more than fifteen different reward options,” explained Chipotle in a press release about the rewards program enhancement. To celebrate Rewards Exchange, Chipotle launched a retro-style video game called “Chipotle Race to Rewards Exchange.” The gamified activation challenged “players to earn game points and avoid obstacles for a chance to win a 2021 Tesla Model 3 and other prizes.” The Chipotle Race to Rewards Exchange video game was only live for 48 hours but served to remind consumers how quickly they can earn points with the new Rewards Exchange loyalty program update. Additionally, the activation created another opportunity for Chipotle to grow its email list. Chipotle frequently uses email to advertise promotions tied to its rewards program.
McDonald’s Continues Digital Push With Launch Of Loyalty Program That Offers Personalization And Email Engagement
After months of testing, McDonald’s is introducing MyMcDonald’s Rewards on July 8. This marks the first time the major fast food franchise has introduced a loyalty program in the U.S. According to reporting from Ben Coley for QSR magazine, McDonald’s sees the rewards program as part of its “digital experience growth engine, which includes kiosks, digital menu boards, delivery, drive-thru, and the mobile app.” Coley adds, “The burger giant earned nearly $1.5 billion in digital sales in Q1. Additionally, roughly 20 million customers are using the app, and delivery has grown to an all-time high in dollars and sales mix.” The MyMcDonald’s Rewards is a tiered plan, with possible rewards “separated into four different tiers, ranging from 1,500 to 6,000 points.”
McDonald’s is also integrating the loyalty program into its overall customer engagement and digital advertising strategy. “McDonald’s workers will greet loyalty members by name as they move through the drive-thru lane, and customers will get a personalized email after they pick up their orders that includes upcoming deals tailored to them,” explained Alycia Mason, McDonald’s VP of Digital, Media and Customer Relationship Management.
Popeyes Kicks Off Inaugural Loyalty Program Rewarding Its Enthusiastic Fans
“As a brand rooted in Southern hospitality and culture, the Popeyes brand wants every guest to feel like family, and the new Popeyes Rewards program allows the beloved fried chicken brand to return the love with exclusive access to deals, celebrations, member experiences, swag, the chance to earn and redeem points for some of their favorite menu items and more,” announced Popeyes in a press release introducing its new loyalty program. Popeyes experienced a lot of buzz in recent years, with the Popeyes spicy chicken sandwich, introduced in 2020, contributing to a 37.9% year-over-year (YOY) sales increase in just one quarter. By introducing the Popeyes Rewards program now, Popeyes has been able to “create a perfect loyalty program that matches and rewards [Popeyes fans] unparalleled enthusiasm,” said Bruno Cardinali, Popeyes Chief Marketing Officer. Popeyes enthusiasts can sign up for the rewards program online or in the Popeyes app, with customers who take advantage of Popeyes members' only family meal earning a bonus 500 points.
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