Subway wants to reward its loyal customers—regardless of the store they visit.
The Milford, Conn.-based sandwich giant is making a dramatic upgrade to its loyalty program, offering a combination of points-based rewards and “surprise and delight” offers tailored for the customer.
But arguably the biggest change in the program is its availability: The Subway MyWay Rewards program will be available at all of its locations in the U.S. and Canada, rather than the limited number of locations it’s available in right now.
“It’s really substantial,” Carissa Ganelli, Subway’s chief digital officer, says in an interview. “Our current program is in only one third of our locations. This is new, it’ll be available nationwide and in Canada. Overall, 28,500 restaurants will be participating,” Ganelli says.
And those rewards are redeemable on both sides of the border. “You can go to a Subway in Toronto, earn rewards, then go to sunny Florida and redeem them.”
The rewards program comes as Subway is working feverishly on its digital strategies to bolster sagging sales. Its remodeled locations have a heavy digital presence, including some kiosks, and the chain has online ordering.
Subway’s total U.S. system sales declined 4% last year, to $10.85 billion, according data from Technomic's Top 500 Chain Restaurant Advance Report.
Loyalty programs have become increasingly important at restaurant chains looking to find ways to interact with customers on a personal level while giving them more reasons to continue returning.
Subway customers will be able to sign up for MyWay either online or in the company’s mobile app. They can also go in the store and sign up using one of the chain’s plastic gift cards.
Customers can earn rewards regardless of how they pay for their meals. They can earn four tokens for every dollar spent. Once they get 200 tokens—$50 worth of spending—they automatically receive a $2 reward they can use on anything in the store.
“We are making it as easy as possible for customers to get the rewards they’ve earned,” Ganelli says. “There’s no work. It’s not a breakage model.”
The program also gives customers free cookies, chips and other items as “surprise rewards.”
The company will capture data customers volunteer to give them, offering free cookies on birthdays, for instance.
It could also help Subway tailor offers to customers. “If you have six children, we have offers for family deals,” Ganelli says. “If you’re a vegetarian, we won’t send you an email for a steak and cheese sandwich.”
The company’s digital division has already uncovered a wealth of information about its customers. “We have a whole segment of customers who love Subway for supper,” Ganelli says. “And we have a whole segment that will only buy products that include eggs, and not only breakfast.