Burger King Pilots Rewards Program Amid Growing QSR Loyalty Competition

Burger King

Burger King, a latecomer to the loyalty game, announced Tuesday (Feb. 9) that it is testing a new rewards program. The “Royal Perks” platform will reward customers with “crowns,” awarding 10 crowns for every dollar spent, reports QSR Magazine. The program was developed in response to customer reports about what they would hope for in a Burger King rewards program.

“A big theme that our guests said is they want a benefit every single time,” Whitney Gretz, vice president of digital and loyalty, told QSR. “They wanted the equivalent of cutting the line at a hotel or airline. They don’t want to wait till they have enough points.”

App users can spend crowns on any item on the menu. This could be a draw for consumers who may be used to the rewards programs of other quick-service restaurants (QSRs), which limit how reward points can be spent. (No word yet on what the dollar value of each crown is in the reward redemption phase.) To encourage new users, the program offers a 400-crown bonus for signing up, according to Restaurant Business. The restaurant chain is looking into ways that partnerships with other companies can allow customers to redeem crown for experiences, rather than only for menu items.

“We’re going to test, refine, expand and learn,” Gretz told Restaurant Business in an interview. “The goal is to keep adding features and markets.”

As of right now, it is being tested in coastal markets. It is currently available in five locations: Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, Long Island and New Jersey. Regarding expansion to other markets, North American Chief Marketing Officer Ellie Doty told CNBC, “We are going through a fairly rigorous scale-up, so we learn as we go and get it right before it hits nationwide.”

The announcement comes amid a period of rapid expansion for QSR loyalty programs. Last week, McDonald’s expanded its MyMcDonald’s rewards program pilot, which was already running in Arizona and Nevada, to New England, reported Nation’s Restaurant News. Additionally, White Castle has been bringing in new users for its Craver Nation rewards program, offering 20 percent off all in-app orders through April 4. The rewards program, which has been running since September, drove a 215 percent year-over-year increase in White Castle app downloads, offering free meals to new members and rewarding loyal “Cravers” (customers) with personalized offers.

QSRs that saw the value of personalized in-app loyalty rewards early have seen huge success during the pandemic, as consumers turn to remote digital ordering to minimize in-store contact. In Starbucksmost recent quarter, rewards customers contributed 50 percent of U.S. company-operated sales, with the app bringing in 22 million active members, a 15 percent year-over-year increase. Chipotle’s loyalty program more than doubled its users in 2020, for a total of 19.5 million members. Red Robin has used its data-driven personalized rewards to improve the customer experience, drive customer spending and increase sales.

As more and more QSRs develop and improve their rewards programs, these programs become increasingly essential for any restaurant that hopes to keep its customers coming back. Recent research highlighted in the December issue of the PYMNTS Delivering On Restaurant Rewards report, based on a survey of 2,123 U.S. consumers, found 39 percent of consumers say loyalty and rewards programs encourage them to make restaurant purchases.

Recent surges in digital ordering driven by housebound consumers amid the pandemic has made competition fierce between QSR chains. Nearly 80 percent of customers said the most important benefit when evaluating QSR loyalty programs is free food, for example, and the second most popular feature is customized discounts. The January edition of the Delivering On Restaurant Rewards brief delves deeper into the many different ways there are for restaurants to cater to the changing needs and expectations of their diverse customers.

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