Loyalty programs have come a long way since savings stamps, punch cards and plastic cards. Today’s diner doesn’t want to fumble through a purse bulging with their tokens of loyalty; most now have a device in their pocket that is tailor-made for receiving and redeeming rewards, wherever they choose to eat.
Loyalty programs have evolved over time, from the early tokens given away by merchants in the 1700s to today’s mobile technology. However, the goal has always remained the same: to retain existing customers and incentivize them to return, time and time again.
Over half of the population of the U.S. now has a smartphone (January 2013, comScore). It’s likely the same percentage of your restaurant customers have one, too. If your business has a loyalty program, it makes sense that mobile-carrying customers should be able to use their device to easily receive and redeem rewards.
In fact, with consumers adopting a more omni-channel approach to shopping, and dining out, a mobile loyalty reward program can span the boundaries of off- and online use.
“We’ve come a long way since the 10th-meal-is-free punch cards,” says Darren Tristano , Executive Vice President, Technomic. “Consumers are now receiving rewards via email, apps, social media and on their smartphones. As mobile marketing continues to evolve, so will loyalty marketing. Its direction may be unclear, but the need to recognize and thank loyal customers will always be there.”
There are plenty of opportunities for more restaurants to offer loyalty programs, found Technomic’s latest Market Intelligence Report. The online survey of 1,000 U.S. adults found that 80% would sign up for a restaurant-based loyalty program if the restaurant they visited most-often offered such a program. Just one third of respondents (36%), however, said they currently participate in a restaurant-based loyalty program.
Other key findings from the report include:
- Over half (58%) of loyalty program users said they were more likely to base their decision where to dine on whether they were a member of that brand’s program;
- Of those respondents in loyalty programs, nearly all (96%) had visited a restaurant in whose program they were a member in the last six months;
- Over three-quarters (77%) prefer email as the channel via which they receive reward information;