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Marketing Bites: Taco Bell crunches its subscription numbers and likes the result

Also, fast casuals are boosting their loyalty programs and Red Lobster extended 2.22.22 promos all week.
Photo courtesy Taco Bell
Photo courtesy Taco Bell
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Welcome to RB’s weekly roundup of the latest developments in restaurant marketing.

Remember the Taco Lover’s Pass?

Taco Belllaunched the subscription early last month, offering up a taco a day (from a list of seven varieties) for 30 days for $10, exclusively via the brand’s app.

Turns out, the promotion was a big hit for the quick-service chain.

Pass purchasers visited Taco Bell three times more often during the month than non-subscribers, and, nearly half of those transactions included more than just a single “free” taco, the chain revealed this week.

A full third of the total Taco Lover’s Pass sign-ups and redemptions came from the West Coast, the company said.

The pass also turned out to be a solid funnel for rewards members and 16% of original subscribers opted to re-up their taco passes, Taco Bell said. During the test phase in Tucson, Ariz., about 20% of subscribers renewed their passes.

“Subscriptions are here to stay, and Taco Bell is excited to take these learnings as a way to continue interacting with fans in new and unique ways,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

Panera Bread, which launched its “unlimited sip club” beverage subscription just before the pandemic began has also reported impressive engagement, food attachment and customer acquisition with the program.

We expect to see many more subscription-type programs at restaurant chains, and even independents, in the not-too-distant future.

Loyalty programs 2.0

It must be the season for revamping and re-imagining restaurant rewards programs. We’ve heard from several chains in recent days that are doing just that.

Among them is fast-casual poke chain Pokeworks, which launched a new app and boosted its online ordering capabilities, in addition to upgrading its loyalty program.

Under the new rewards platform, Pokeworks customers can earn rewards and bonuses, as well as using customized offer codes. Long-running deals include $1.99 delivery, $9 off every $99 spent and $5 off for rewards referrals. There will also be “rotating timely offers,” the chain said.

Fast-casual Mexican chain Qdoba also revamped its loyalty program this month, allowing customers to earn free food more quickly.

Diners will earn one point for every $1 spent, which a free entree available after spending $125.

The two-tier loyalty program allows customers to earn “chef” status with 12 Qdoba visits per year. Chef Status rewards members earn extra benefits, like $2 Queso & Chips at every visit, along with seasonal surprises.

The 740-unit chain said simplifying its rewards program was a consumer request.

Qdoba said it had seen a 20% increase in weekly sign-ups for the rewards program since it was launched.

2.22.22 continues …

On Tuesday, we saw lots of chains taking advantage of the historic 2.22.22 calendar date with special deals and promotions. (The date was also almost so perfectly aligned with Taco Tuesday and National Margarita Day it seemed as if someone planned it …)

Red Lobster, though, decided to spread its date-specific promo until Monday.

The casual-dining chain’s Red Lobster Rewards sweepstakes coincides with the two-year anniversary of the launch of “enhanced benefits” to its My Red Lobster Rewards loyalty program.

App users receive an automatic entry into the sweepstakes and can earn additional entries for each dine-in or to-go visit through Monday.

One winner will score $22,222 and 222 rewards members will receive 222 bonus points. All loyalty members will be incentivized with two free soft drinks through Monday.

It’s yet another way of trying to get more people to sign up for a rewards program, while giving existing members a reason to remain.

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