The evolution of QSR loyalty programs

Today’s crowded marketplace means there’s fierce competition for restaurants to stand out and cultivate customer loyalty. With the average consumer belonging to 16.7 loyalty programs, how can you make yours special, add value, and have it work for your business?

Loyalty programs are not a new invention, but these days, we are seeing them evolve, with many restaurants giving their programs a makeover to better suit the needs of their customers and their businesses.

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Recently, Subway introduced a 3-tier system as part of their program, now called MVP Rewards.  The basic premise of the program is that more points are earned faster based on the amount of money spent at the restaurant. For example, in the Pro tier, where customers are spending less than $200, 10 points are earned per dollar spent. In the next tier, Captain, points are earned 10 per cent faster, based on higher spending, and in the highest tier, All-Star, the earnings are even more accelerated. This rewards those customers who spend the most amount of money in the restaurant.

Dunkin’ Donuts has also refreshed its loyalty program recently, allowing members to earn points twice as fast, however, it is not based on spend, but on visit frequency, adding a tier for frequent visitors. They have also introduced some time-sensitive offers for loyalty members to encourage visits before October 31.

Panera has recently broadened its coffee loyalty program to include 26 self-service drinks as part of the program, adding a monthly member fee in July to the program, as well. As customers participated in the program, receiving their free drink, about one-third of guests added a food item to their purchase during their visit. This practice raised revenues with higher guest cheques and more frequent visits.

From offering more options to adding a tiered system to setting more attainable goals, restaurants are refining their loyalty programs to stand out and appeal to their customers. As technology and customer demand evolves, so too, should your value propositions. Restaurants looking to stay competitive in today’s market should always be looking to set themselves apart with unique offerings and increased value.