6 Strategies for Building A Loyalty Program that Gains and Retains Your Customers

Do you or your operators run a loyalty program? If not, it might be time to consider it. Recent research conducted by Nielsen has shown that loyalty programs can increase frequency of visits and customer spend, two major goals when building a successful food and beverage precinct or developing a new F&B concept. 

A loyalty program is a modern way to stand out from the crowd and create competitive advantage. We are lucky enough to have access to all kinds of information at our finger tips but this also means our customers have the opportunity to be more discerning than they have been before as they flick through reviews, seek photos and assess other peoples’ experience. With so much on offer, particularly in the food and beverage industry it can be hard to gain loyal customers that continue to come back, time and time again. 

  Australian-based dessert king, Doughnut Time offers free doughnuts to customers on a regular basis through social media channels such as Instagram

Australian-based dessert king, Doughnut Time offers free doughnuts to customers on a regular basis through social media channels such as Instagram

In research global insight and trend forecasting agency, Nielsen conducted on loyalty programs and participation perks, 72% of the global respondents said they would buy from one retailer with a loyalty program over another one without. Types of loyalty programs vary and it would seem that customers favour product discount programs quickly followed by rebates or cash back. However, one thing the research does note is that you need to make sure you are playing to your customer’s needs with generic deals not catching the customer. At Future Food, we continue to ensure all our projects are customer-centric and it seems that this successful model applies across the board. The customer wants greater value and if being loyal to you is how they can increase their ‘bang for buck’ given they like what your business or precinct offers, being loyal is what they will do. 

Jimmy Grants, Melbourne’s favourite souvlaki shop, has a smartphone App which allows you to place and track your order and earn points as you do. The more points you earn, the cheaper your next meal will be. Westfield Centres around Australia offer a reward system where points gained through spending can be redeemed for valet parking, movie vouchers and much more. With the advancement in digital technology and the preference for digital platforms from customers (69% think specific loyalty Apps are extremely appealing), it would seem that more and more operators, precincts and centres are integrating loyalty programs into their model to give back to their customers and also keep them returning for more. 

  Westfield's customers choose to shop in the centre knowing they will get benefits from doing so

Westfield's customers choose to shop in the centre knowing they will get benefits from doing so

If you’re going to do a loyalty program, it’s important to do it well. With anything, it becomes a part of your business and if it’s not relevant or useful then it may impact your customer’s perception of your brand. Nielsen’s research provides strategies to ensuring your loyalty program will win customers and increase spend: 


6 Strategies For Building a Better Loyalty Program

  1. Monitor the performance of your program - you can gain business insight if you track your program properly. Learn how your customers spend, what they spend on and the impact the program is having on their behaviour. You will be able to tweak things and learn what they do and don’t like if you gather and analyse the data. 
  2. Personalise your program- not all your customers will be the same which means one offer might not be applicable to everyone. Create incentives that will work for different consumers and their behaviours which can be done so through monitoring your customers and segmenting them into customer groups. 
  3. Be personal - making your offers unique to the customer builds the customer-operator relationship and encourages them to return to redeem the offers that are personal to them. 
  4. Make the rewards relevant - families might like offers which are buy-one-get-one-free whereas singles might want a point redemption system to make their food cheaper in the long run. Know who your customers are and then apply the relevant reward systems. 
  5. Be different - loyalty programs can be useful but they can also be frustrating for the customer and not very rewarding. Your program needs to be fun, enticing and provoke engagement otherwise they won’t see yours as any different to another operator or brand’s program. 
  6. Use your program to build awareness - it doesn’t always have to be monetary when it comes to the type of reward. You can use your customers’ engagement to promote your offer by asking for referrals in return for rewards. Instagram is a much loved social media platform and the sharing of photos makes it an easy way to catch new customer attention. Ask your customers to share a photo of their meal and in return offer them an addition to their meal or a discount for their next visit. 

Do you run a loyalty program? And as a customer, what do you value when it comes to reward programs?