Card-Linked Offers Shape Data Access and Personalized Offers for Restaurants

With Small Business Week coming up April 29, it’s a good time to focus on the restaurant sector, because according to industry data, 90% of restaurants meet the criteria.

In fact, 70% of them are single-unit operations. And when you’re dealing with the changing dining and payment preferences of the consumer, restaurants need to get as much data and promotional help as they can access.

Part of that data and promotion can come from card-linked offers. According to PYMNTS Intelligence, 93% of consumers who use special savings or rewards attached to a merchant or product say they plan on maintaining or increasing their use in the next year.

As Steve Fusco, president at Rewards Network, told PYMNTS, card-linked offers can be the key to accessing data and partnerships to deliver the best options, in the right context, to consumers.

The conversation came together on the heels of the announcement in early April that J.P. Morgan Chase had launched a retail media network, Chase Media Solutions, enabling personalized advertising within the banking sector. The approach is one that uses transaction-level data to target, craft and deliver personalized offers. Rewards Network’s own offers have been made available via Chase for more than a year.

Said Fusco: “If you look at what Chase is doing with CMS, this has been our go-to market approach,” and offers that this is “an example of how to use our content in different ways.”

Rewards Network was founded in the 1980s, and was among the first platforms to fashion card-linked offers, said Fusco. Rewards Network now has over 20,000 restaurants in its network, all offering rewards through this platform.

Asked about Rewards Network’s own partnership efforts, Fusco said getting the right alliances in place remains “very, very important in this ecosystem.” Rewards Network’s approach, he said, is to find partners with significant size and scale.

Diverse Membership, Partnerships That Scale

“You’re looking for a partner with a diverse membership base that has a demonstrated engagement with a valued currency,” he said. For the Rewards Network platform, he said, valued currencies are miles and points as well as cash back or statement credits, all of which the platform enables.

Diners who are members of Reward Network’s participating airline and hotel loyalty programs and fuel savings programs among others, earn rewards (points or cash back) as they eat at independent restaurants advertising to those consumers. For the customers themselves, having a large inventory of relevant offers presented to them, on a tailored one-to-one basis, proves valuable as well.

“Each partner brings in a different type of diner,” said Fusco, who added, “We also recognize that local dining is a very important value differentiator to our partners — and they see that [dining out] is a critical way of engaging their member bases … regardless of geography or preferences.” 

Rewards Network, he said, has a broad-based, real-time view of the industry, as it works with fine-dining establishments, fast-casual restaurants, quick serve, and everything in between.

With the ever-increasing trove of data on hand, Fusco said, “It’s less a question of whether or not a dining offer will be relevant — it’s more a question of which dining offer will be relevant. We connect with them, in context, when they’re in the restaurant, and we reinforce that they’re receiving a reward.”

Verified reviews, he said, are another platform feature that helps restaurants better manage their operations and dining experience at a granular level, right down to the menus offered.

“We’re able to conduct ‘relevance engine data mining,’” Fusco said, “enabling us to provide a restaurant owner, across a large number of locations, with specific call-outs on the experience that their customers are having.”

As he told PYMNTS, “We’re able to observe peoples’ preferences and offer up relevant opportunities to earn rewards in any major market, across the spectrum of dining opportunities.”