At $8.99 per month, the MyPanera Coffee subscription gives customers unlimited coffee or hot tea for the price of about four cups of coffee. This program exemplifies how smart, forward-thinking brands are embracing subscription models.
Subscription programs tend to operate in one of these three ways:
Recurring payments – As with the Panera program, subscribers pay for a given time period. Cancellation can occur at any time.
Lump-sum payment with time-bound usage – The industry standard is Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Pass, which allows unlimited meals for nine weeks. Limiting the number of passes sold provides customers with a sense of exclusivity.
Lump-sum payment with limited times or items – An example is the Grill Pass offered by HuHot Mongolian Grill. Last summer, loyalty members could spend $50, $100, or $200 to buy 5, 11, or 25 meals.
Last night the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-91 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. As a result, I’ll be watching Game 2 at Buffalo Wild Wings.
The last time I visited the chicken wing/sports bar concept I played the Spin & Win game on the Blazin’ Rewards app. This is a gamified component of the brand’s loyalty program and members like myself have an opportunity to play every time they visit during the NBA postseason. Each visit allows one “spin” in the app. Every spin reveals a team with an upcoming playoff game. If that team wins its next game, the guest earns 100 bonus points towards a reward.
When I played during a lunch visit earlier in the week, my spin landed on the Warriors. When they won last night, I earned 100 points, giving me enough currency to earn a free entrée. Now I can’t wait to go back for Game 2 this weekend so I can redeem my reward and play again to give myself a shot at 100 more points. […]
Before digital loyalty programs, restaurants had no real way of figuring out which visitors were likely to return. And, what’s worse, they had no way of effectively incentivizing visitors who could become loyal to return.
Today, identifying and nurturing potential loyal customers is more important than ever; people have a seemingly endless array of options when it comes to their meals. They can purchase ingredients at the grocery store to cook at home, or have ingredients delivered to their door using increasingly popular services like Blue Apron. For a quicker meal, they can buy pre-prepared hot food from supermarkets or convenience stores, order takeout, or go out to eat.
How can your restaurant compete?
The answer is as simple as it is challenging: Get customers to meet the four-visit milestone.
Obviously, you want people to visit, and to visit often. But your goals can be much more specific than that. Data shows that each visit increases the chance that a customer will visit again, effectively choosing you over your competitors.
I recently sat down with my fellow product manager, Joel Udwin, to talk about where our worlds collide: integrating mobile at the point of sale. We like to think that a mobile strategy is placed in the pocket of the consumer, but it doesn’t stay there – mobile engagement must integrate with in-store operations to be successful. Joel, who manages our mobile products, explains why:
Q: Why is a POS integration important when it comes to mobile engagement?
A: Wow, Paige. I thought that since we worked together, you would give me easy questions, but you just knocked it out of the park. [Chuckles] I don’t like bucketing mobile into this separate silo of mobile engagement. When we talk about mobile engagement, we are really just talking about guest engagement. At restaurants and convenience stores, a large portion of customer engagement occurs at the point of sale, where most transactions take place today. Implementing an engagement strategy without considering your point of sale is like driving a small car on an icy road – you’ll move around, but you won’t necessarily be able to control where you are going. Basically, if your engagement program doesn’t translate at the POS, your employees will be too frustrated by it to evangelize it, and your guests won’t want to use it. Successful mobile engagement programs need to work in harmony with point-of-sale technology and operations.