UK Rewards Programs Increase as McDonald’s Pilots Loyalty Scheme

Loyalty and reward schemes are very popular with United Kingdom customers and McDonald’s is the latest company to cash in on the growing trend.

Starting Monday (Jan. 10), the quick-service restaurant (QSR) giant will be piloting its MyMcDonald’s Rewards program in 10 restaurants across the North of England, as part of plans to roll out the scheme to an additional 65 restaurants by the end of the month, and nationwide by the end of the year.

Through the program, customers can earn 100 reward points for every 1 pound they spend, which can then be cashed in for a free meal or a charity donation after they’ve banked 1,500 points, 2,500 or 4,000 points.

Commenting on the pilot, McDonald U.K. and Ireland SVP and Chief Marketing Officer Michelle Graham-Clare reportedly said, “We’re incredibly excited to trial the MyMcDonald’s Rewards scheme in the UK.”

She added that in addition to rewarding customers with “iconic menu items,” the company was also “delighted to give customers the option of donating points to the brilliant BBC Children in Need, money which we know will make an incredible difference to the lives of many thousands of young people.”

Repeat customers who accumulate 1,500 points can donate 1.50 pounds to the charity partner, while those with 2,500 and 4,000 points who choose the option to donate can give 2.50 pounds and 4 pounds, respectively. 

Related: McDonald’s Aims to Leverage Loyalty to Grow Its Known Customer Base 8X

The launch of the loyalty program in the U.K. is part of a wider strategic move by the burger giant which company President and CEO Chris Kempczinski spoke about in a third-quarter earnings call last October.

According to Kempczinski, “loyalty is certainly the way to get that customer to engage and share information with you,” as he shared with analysts the company’s plans to expand the MyMcDonald’s Rewards program, which is currently active in the United States, Germany and Canada, to its top six markets by mid-2022.

The firm also intends to leverage the loyalty program to grow its known customer base 8X, and has already seen a bump in customer frequency where the program is available.

UK Shoppers’ Love for Loyalty Programs

A recent PYMNTS report on what U.K. consumers expect from their grocery shopping experiences found that about 40% of the U.K.’s 67 million population belong to grocers’ loyalty programs and 63% of U.K. shoppers use at least one grocer’s loyalty program.

Read the PYMNTS report: What U.K. Consumers Expect From Their Grocery Shopping Experiences

Published in collaboration with payment systems company, ACI Worldwide, the report further revealed that 44% of U.K. grocery shoppers say they spend more at stores with loyalty programs, while 45% say the presence of a loyalty program plays a role in where they shop, an indication that McDonald’s could likely see an increase in customer frequency starting today.

Related: 44% of UK Grocery Shoppers Spend More at Stores With Loyalty Programs

In terms of regional differences, the research showed that grocery loyalty programs are more commonly used in the U.K. than in the U.S., with British shoppers 17% more likely to belong to grocers’ customer loyalty programs than U.S. shoppers.

In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Madeline Aufseeser, omnichannel grocery and drugstores leader at ACI Worldwide, partly attributed that regional difference to higher credit card use in the U.S., where American consumers are more accustomed to making grocery purchases with their credit cards because of the benefits associated with them.

In the U.K., however, shoppers are more likely to be enticed by benefits offered by merchants through a loyalty program as most shoppers (63%) use debit cards more than any other payment method when buying groceries.

Another reason she gave is tied to the higher number of grocery brands in the U.S. marketplace as compared to the U.K.: “In the U.S., consumers will shop from different brands within a particular month, so they’re not loyal to any one store, [while in] the U.K., we see much greater loyalty to a particular grocer.”

Also related: Digital Consumers Demand UK Grocers Improve Online, In-Store Shopping Experiences

When it comes to expectations from their grocery shopping experiences, ease and convenience were the main reasons 66.2% of U.K. grocery shoppers said they are continuing to buy groceries online — a trend Aufseeser said will likely continue well after the pandemic has ended.

“Plus, they no longer have the patience to go into a store and deal with the friction of waiting in line to check out or spending the time walking the aisles,” she pointed out, adding that there are also no limitations on when consumers can shop or “what payment methods they use because their credentials are stored within an app or whatever device they’re using.”