There’s an interesting problem that restaurants with loyalty programs face. All of the behavioral data gleaned from these programs means that restaurants can easily identify their best customers: the people who spend the most and visit most frequently. And that’s very useful for creating profitable campaigns.
Running unsegmented promotions can cannibalize profit because your best guests will receive the same promotion as your less frequent customers. Your best guests are going to come in anyway, and discounting purchases they were already going to make can hurt profits.
Discounts and promotions designed to drive revenue should only be sent to guests who weren’t going to come in. This is how you get incremental visits and spend. So, the question is, how do you reward your best guests? You want to honor them for their brand loyalty, but how can you do it without losing money?
Chick-fil-A has come up with an interesting solution. The chicken sandwich restaurant runs a two-tiered system that rewards visits with the first tier but also creates demand for the second, more exclusive tier.
Chick-fil-A “One” is a publicly available program that incorporates its mobile app with an online ordering system, the option to store value to pay for meals, and the opportunity to earn offers.
Although it rewards customers, it isn’t a true loyalty program. The offers aren’t targeted based on consumer behavior, they don’t publish goals so customers don’t have clear steps to earn perks, and based on our experiences with the program, everyone gets the same treat offers regardless of their purchase history.
Still, the program nurtures Chick-fil-A’s relationship to their guests.
But for some guests — the most frequent visitors and the highest purchasers — there’s another program altogether. It’s a “secret,” invite-only program … and it has people begging to join on social media.
This secret program, the Chick-fil-A “A-List,” is only available via special invitation from Chick-fil-A employees. It offers all the benefits of a traditional loyalty program, tracking guest behavior and offering relevant offers based on that data, but it also creates a unique (and highly coveted) community.
The perks associated with this program extend far beyond traditional offers and rewards. Members are invited to special community events, tastings, and some members have reported receiving free Chick-Fil-A swag. This is a fantastic way to reward guests without cannibalizing sales or neglecting the brand’s most loyal followers.
Positioning A List membership as the end of an exciting journey is an innovative approach to loyalty. I recently earned my way onto Chick-fil-A’s A List and chronicled my story in a free webinar. This 30-minute presentation digs even deeper into the Chick-fil-A A-List program, analyzing exactly how the loyalty program solves the “best guest problem.” We also discuss how the invite-only element created buzz across both social media and the news and which rewards Chick-fil-A offers that members value but that don’t cannibalize sales.