Chuck E. Cheese CIO: Paid Memberships Boost Personalization Opportunities

Chuck E. Cheese

Chuck E. Cheese is leveraging paid memberships to drive app engagement, boosting its ability to meet consumer demand for personalized offers.

In an interview with PYMNTS following the brand’s launch of family memberships, facilitated through its mobile app, Mark Kupferman, chief insights and marketing officer at the entertainment center and restaurant chain, explained that, in driving visits, that these programs will also increase digital engagement.

“When people visit more often, they will also be participating in our loyalty program, so they get credits for their membership payments,” Kupferman said. “They get credits for even the discounted spending that they do in the restaurant so they will earn loyalty points, which I think will also be a win for them.”

Additionally, he noted, the more consumers engage with the program, the more information the brand has about that customer’s behavior, and in turn the more it can “personalize those offers based on the individual.”

Consumers demand this kind of targeted messaging. The PYMNTS Intelligence report “Personalized Offers Are Powerful — but Too Often Off-Base,” which drew on responses from more than 2,500 U.S. consumers, found that 71% had received personalized offers and were interested in them and an additional 12% had not received personalized offers but were interested.

The Click-and-Mortar™ Customer

While the brand has long focused on in-person entertainment, Kupferman emphasized the importance of extending that experience into the digital realm to maintain meaningful connections with customers. By integrating with the Chuck E. Cheese mobile app, the membership program leverages technology to deliver personalized benefits and rewards to members, thereby enhancing their overall experience.

PYMNTS Intelligence research reveals that today’s consumers are increasingly Click-and-Mortar shoppers™, engaging across digital and physical channels. The study “2024 Global Digital Shopping Index: The Rise of the Click-and-Mortar™ Shopper and What It Means for Merchants,” commissioned by Visa Acceptance Solutions and drawing from a survey of nearly 14,000 consumers across seven countries, finds that 39% of consumers now fall into this category.

Specifically, 25% of consumers are digitally assisted in-store shoppers, using technology to improve their brick-and-mortar experience, and 14% are pickup shoppers, opting to buy online and collect their items at the store. Chuck E. Cheese’s membership program caters to the former, leveraging the app to provide access to on-site experiences.

Breaking It Down

“We’ve found the more times people get to visit Chuck E. Cheese, the more times they want to visit Chuck E. Cheese. So, by giving them a more affordable option … we think we’ll get retention,” Kupferman said. “We’re just at the beginning of trying to improve and grow the relationship that we have with our guests and with our with consumers in our markets.”

The brand’s membership program leverages a tiered structure, with different levels of benefits catering to diverse customer segments. This tiered approach reflects a growing trend in the retail industry towards offering personalized rewards and incentives based on more granular insights related to customer behavior and preferences.

“As you would expect with any out of home entertainment experience, we have customers who visit us frequently,” Kupferman said. “We have customers who visit us infrequently who just have different needs.”

Across retail industries, tiered membership models are catching on. From social media platforms such as X adding subscription tiers to fitness services such as Peloton to retailers including Best Buy and Barnes & Noble, merchants are noting the need to provide a range models tailored to how different customer segments engage.

In fact, research finds that the way brands’ most loyal members interact with their offerings is markedly different from how other kinds of customers do. PYMNTS Intelligence’s survey “How Retail Subscription Merchants Can Win and Retain High LTV Customers,” which draws on a survey of nearly 2,100 customers, finds that 30% of retail subscribers drive 79% of merchant revenues.

Getting Personal

Looking ahead, Chuck E. Cheese plans to further enhance its digital capabilities and explore new avenues for personalizing the digital experience.

Certainly, the membership could go a long way toward engaging the highest-value customers. PYMNTS Intelligence’s 2022 study “Digital Divide: Restaurant Subscribers and Loyalty Programs” found that only 17% of consumers were very or extremely interested in being provided a restaurant subscription service. Yet 79% of subscribers were very or extremely loyal toward their preferred full-service restaurants, while only 47% of those who were uninterested in subscriptions were similarly loyal.

Chuck E. Cheese, for its part, is looking to further drive this high level of loyalty with new digital technologies going forward.

“We are working on more personalization technology on our website. If we know who you are, if we know that you have younger kids, [for instance,] we want to make sure that we’re telling you about the experiences that we’re offering younger kids,” Kupferman said. “[We’re focusing on] our 360 view of our customer and how we can improve our ability to effectively communicate relevant offers and experiences when we need to.”