Loyalty program penetration at QSRs has grown just over 100% from 2012, according to Steve Kennedy, director of loyalty for Domino’s. But simply having a program isn’t enough. “Loyalty programs have evolved so quickly that they’re now considered a table stake,” says Sherrill Kaplan, VP of digital marketing and innovation at Dunkin’ Donuts. Now, the challenge is building apps and programs to provide users with additional benefits and rewards that are experiential.
The other big way consumers’ expectations of loyalty has changed in the past year? Personalization. “Customers these days are very savvy about data that chains are collecting on them. They want offers that are relevant to them,” says Kaplan. “And they want to be rewarded if they’re a great guest of ours.”
Jeff Zuckerman, CMO and co-owner of PizzaRev, says “Personalization is the most important element of the modern-day loyalty experience. We leverage consumer purchasing behavior and interaction within [our] app so we can provide information and promotions that are more specific to that user.”
Here’s how industry leaders have modernized loyalty to keep up with today’s demands.
Personalize perks and deals
Chick-fil-A gives its app users a list of choices for freebies. “After redeeming their treat, they can rate [their choice], so we can get smarter about what type of treats they’d like to see in the future,” says Michael Lage, senior manager of digital and mobile experience. Kaplan says Dunkin’s mobile app offers are tailored to the user’s history.
Partner with companies your fans already use
To up exposure, Dunkin’ Donuts partnered with navigation app Waze to allow DD Perks users to order Dunkin’ items through Waze, as well as find a nearby store. “It’s an on-the-go brand, and our consumers are on the go,” says Kaplan. Starbucks also allows members to earn stars through companies like Spotify and Lyft.
Give members a convenience perk
Dunkin’ launched its Curbside program last year at one unit, which has a dedicated parking spot for DD Perks members taking advantage of the door-to-car-door service. Kaplan says the chain has plans to expand this service this year. About a third of Chick-fil-A restaurants currently offer a similar curbside feature.
Think beyond your own app
In the full-service world, Chili’s Grill & Bar replaced its My Chili’s Rewards program with a third-party partnership last summer. The new program enables users to earn points at one retailer and use them at another retailer enrolled in the program, such as AT&T Mobile, ExxonMobil, Macy’s and more.
Some of the more senior members of the team smile at the junior staff who are excited to uncover an interesting trend in “eatertainment” or the latest single-ingredient concept. We try not to be condescending when we suggest they do some research by looking at past issues of Restaurant Business or old Technomic top chain reports before calling it the next big thing.