PYMNTS Data: Loyalty Programs Best Way to Get Diners to Spend More

Loyalty Enables Contact ‘Outside Transaction’

Most restaurants now offer consumers the ability to be rewarded for their spending, according to data from PYMNTS’ new Restaurant Friction Index, created in collaboration with Paytronix.

The study, which drew from a survey of more than 500 managers of quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and full-service restaurants (FSRs), found that 57% of restaurants offer rewards programs. Still, many restaurants’ websites and apps do not reward consumer loyalty, given that 77% of restaurants offer the ability to order online, and 73% offer app ordering.

See more: New Data Show Digital Loyalty Programs Are Key Differentiator for Top-Performing Restaurants

Meanwhile, consumers seek out loyalty rewards above all other features. The study, which also drew from the results of a survey of a census-balanced panel of more than 2,100 U.S. consumers, found that 43% of consumers would be more inclined to shop with restaurants that offered these rewards, which is more than said the same of any other feature. Loyalty programs ranked ahead of online ordering and payment ability, drive-thru pickup and curbside pickup, among other in-demand features and capabilities.

While many major brands launched loyalty programs throughout 2020 and 2021, some restaurants are still just getting into the space, and others are relaunching their loyalty programs to be better able to meet consumers’ growing expectations of personalized convenience. Fast-casual Mexican chain Qdoba, for instance, announced in a Thursday (Feb. 17) press release a new, more “streamlined” version of its program.

“After listening closely to what matters most to our fans, we’ve introduced a simplified and easier-to-understand program that rewards people with free food fast for eating what they already love,” Qdoba CEO Keith Guilbault said in the release. “Our guests appreciate that we have set up a program that gets them to flavorful rewards fast, as we’ve already seen a 20% increase in weekly sign-ups since the program launched.”

Loyalty programs can also be key to restaurants’ ability to make it through crises.

“Digital engagement mechanisms to keep close to the guests are paramount,” said Paytronix CEO Andrew Robbins in an interview with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster. “So, a strong loyalty CRM program, online ordering, those are the twin pillars of a good strategy. And we see this every single time there’s a downturn.”

Read more: Restaurants Lean on Loyal Customers to Navigate Omicron, Inflation Impact