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The Most Popular Restaurant Loyalty Programs

Friday, May 12, 2017   (0 Comments)
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What Makes a Loyalty Program Effective?


It seems these days that any place you visit you're faced with a new loyalty program. From airlines to credit cards to coffee shops, businesses have learned that customer loyalty is a powerful tool, just so long as you're able to harness it effectively. Some might argue that restaurants are one of the most popular types of loyalty programs available. We were curious what makes a loyalty program really effective, so we asked 500 Kansans, "What is your favorite restaurant loyalty program?" Here are the results:

  • 1st Place - McDonald's
  • 2nd Place - Panera
  • 3rd Place - Starbucks
  • 4th Place - Red Robin
Close Contenders included Old Chicago, Papa John's, Buffalo Wild Wings and Chili's. 

 Results lined up a little differently when looking at responses among men verses women. For men, McDonald's was the clear winner followed by Old Chicago. For women, Panera was the clear winner followed by Starbucks. 

Now, what do these programs have in common?

1. Freebies & Discounts
The most popular programs offer birthday freebies as well as regular offers and discounts. These offers should all be easily tracked so that you can see which offers are popular and which are not. Consider a program that offers a free item after a certain number of purchases. This ensures they visit your restaurant several times before they can take advantage of their reward. 

2. Accessibility
You don't have to have an app to have a successful loyalty program (although it doesn't hurt) but you do have to make it easy for your customers to use. Whether it's by looking up their phone number or birthday, you should make it as easy as possible for your customers to earn loyalty points. Don't expect them to remember their loyalty card or number. 

3. Speed
Another common denominator among the most popular loyalty programs is a speedier buying process. With Panera's rapid pick-up, one can place and pay for their order online and it will be ready for them on a shelf when then arrive. This saves customers time by allowing them to skip the line completely. Starbucks lets customers pay using their mobile app, allowing a quicker checkout for loyalty rewards members.