As restaurants look to gain a comprehensive understanding of their customers’ behavior across channels, Noodles & Company is focused on linking in-store transactions back to consumers’ digital profiles to boost its data capabilities.
In an interview with PYMNTS, Stacey Pool, chief marketing officer at the fast-casual brand, which has more than 450 locations, discussed the company’s concerted effort to involve operators in driving digital check-ins. She noted that the restaurant’s messaging prompts people to check in upon entry, and employees encourage consumers to check in when they take their orders.
“Our check-in rate has grown quite significantly. I’m going to say it’s up, like, 20% year over year, just because of the strengthened relationship that we have with the operators and because of the operators’ understanding the value of the data and how it can drive their business,” Pool said.
Certainly, many diners now want the ability to earn and redeem loyalty points. According to data from PYMNTS Intelligence’s March study, “Connected Dining: Consumers Like the Taste of Discount Meals,” which is based on a February survey of more than 1,800 U.S. consumers, the majority (51%) reported using a restaurant loyalty program. Plus, the study found that adoption of quick-service restaurant (QSR) programs had grown 15% year over year.
Pool argues that, in order to remain competitive, brands need not only to offer these loyalty programs but to drive omnichannel adoption.
“Not having that single source of record is going to make it really challenging for people to understand how to market more effectively to the guest,” Pool said.
Amid consumers’ current financial difficulties, Pool said, many are looking for discounts more often, driving digital engagement with the brand’s loyalty program, and in turn the restaurant is becoming more targeted with its offers.
Additionally, the company is not only driving adoption with cost-based deals, but also by creating a sense of exclusivity for loyalty program users with members-only menu items. Last month, when the company made its new chicken parmesan entrée available only to members for two weeks, loyalty signups doubled relative to the average two-week period, Pool said. Specifically, the company saw close to 50,000 new signups, where typically it would have 24,000 or 25,000.
Looking ahead, Pool expects to further drive integration of the restaurant’s physical and digital experiences, tapping digital menu boards, which are now in nearly all of the brand’s restaurants, with the intentions to leverage Bluetooth to personalize the on-site experience.
The PYMNTS Intelligence July study “Connected Dining: The Robot Will Take Your Order Now” finds that 56% of millennials and about half of all Gen Z consumers are very or extremely interested in digital menus.
Noodles & Company intends to use these boards to offer messaging that is “a lot more targeted and personalized” inside its physical restaurants.
“What I would like to see with that is that if you come into the restaurant, you’re able to get a message say, ‘Hey, Stacy, you ordered the Penne Rosa last time you were in here. Let’s make it quick for you. Feel free to walk up and order that again.’ Or ‘You have 1,500 points in your rewards wallet. You should use one today for a free regular entrée.’”