Papa John’s loyalty program hits rare territory

Papa Rewards has 20 million members. The program has helped the chain generate strong sales through the pandemic.
Papa John's loyalty program
Photograph: Shutterstock

Papa John’s on Tuesday said that its Papa Rewards loyalty program hit 20 million members, a key milestone that was driven at least in part by consumers becoming more frequent buyers of delivery pizza during the pandemic.

It’s a milestone reached by a relatively small number of chains—Starbucks, Panera Bread and Domino’s among them—but one that could become more common in the coming years as a growing number of big chains start getting on board the loyalty bandwagon. McDonald’s this week, for instance, is expected to debut its loyalty program, one that could instantly have millions of members given the popularity of its app.

Papa John’s program, called Papa Rewards, made its debut in 2010. Two years ago it had 12 million members. That number has soared since then as the chain’s sales recovered and consumers ordered a lot more pizza. The chain’s domestic system sales climbed 16%.

In the first quarter, Papa John’s loyalty members accounted for nearly half of the chain’s transactions. “Those are our most valuable customers,” CEO Rob Lynch said in May, according to a transcript on the financial services site Sentieo. “They’re driving higher ticket averages and higher frequency.”

They also give the company more insights into its consumers’ behavior. “We’ve gotten a lot better at leveraging our data and leveraging that resource,” Lynch said. “We have taken up some of the frequency that we believe we are going to get from those customers.”

Papa Rewards gives its customers rewards based on the amount they spend at the chain’s restaurants. Customers get one point for every dollar they spend in the store and can redeem 75 points for $10 toward any menu item.

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