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Creating your cult following through a stand-out loyalty program

Consumers are tightening their wallets as the economy continues to fluctuate. Rewards programs have become increasingly relevant in maintaining customer retention as low prices are one of the most important predictors of customer loyalty in budget conscious consumers. In turn, many restaurants are adopting rewards programs to capture this new wave of budget conscious shoppers and a loyalty program renaissance is taking place. These initiatives are emerging as steadfast bridges to brand love and the customer dollar.

Separating your restaurant from the sea of rewards programs requires a dynamic strategy, one that can win with today’s expectations of what loyalty should be. Welcome to the era where loyalty programs are no longer just programs – they're the conduits to forging your restaurant’s cult following.

The Cult of Personalization

Mere points and rewards no longer suffice to win customers, which is why one of the best ways to stand out amongst the crowd is personalizing reward offers. Customers yearn for a sense of belonging & connection to the brands they know and adore, making this reward style appealing. Giving each customer tailor-made offers will likely bring them back into the store often and lead to retention. It also gives consumers discounts on beloved items they might normally scale back on during times of high inflation. Giving away free items on birthdays or anniversaries, rewarding additional points for purchasing favorite items, or retargeting consumers with deals based on their usual cravings are all ways to personalize a consumer's experience in a way that makes them feel known & recognized by the brand.

Embrace Spontaneity

Surprise your loyalty club with members-only deals that can help spur spontaneous visits and purchases. This can come in the form of discounts but can also be given as additional reward points for purchases at specified times that help drive visits. Additionally, these surprise rewards can be personalized to their purchase behaviors, which further increases the chance for an otherwise unprompted store visit.

The spontaneity of these rewards can fuel program enrollment, paving the way for targeted notifications through apps and emails, thereby amplifying your brand's messaging capabilities.

Elevate to VIP Status

The allure of exclusivity remains key. While reward programs allow members to access premium discounts and point systems, most brands will also run promotions and LTOs throughout the year accessible to non-members. Exclusive member perks can make loyalty consumers feel like they are getting unique benefits for being a part of the program, even if the overall promotion isn’t solely exclusive. Requiring memberships to unlock birthday gifts or even having exclusive, limited-timed access to product releases for loyalty members are ways to drive a cult-like following without alienating non-members.

Initiate Engagement

Loyalty is a dance of reciprocity, though most loyalty programs are simply built as a one-way street to encourage purchase to earn points. What if it were more of a shared experience instead? Brands would be wise to use their loyalty members to stoke social engagement. This not only helps the brands feel authentic, but it also allows budget conscious shoppers to earn a few extra rewards by posting content on social media such as liking or interacting with content, sharing to their own social feeds, or writing reviews. Take this a step further by incorporating rewards for attending in-person events like pop-up kitchens or other community-based events. This can help build connections at the store level and make the customers feel valued by the brand creating memorable experiences they feel are worth sharing.

Grow the Following

Ready to take the dive into being a (loyalty) cult leader? Our takeaways will help transform your existing program and put you on the path to capture hearts and palates with an unparalleled loyalty program strategy.