Customer loyalty programs: How to deal with it in the food industry

Customer loyalty programs: How to deal with it in the food industry
customer loyalty, customer loyalty programs, business, food industry

Suppose you envision creating a loyal customer base that will become frequent customers of your restaurant and choose you over the competition. In that case, your best bet is restaurant loyalty programs, which offer benefits and rewards to both new and existing customers.

Due to the intense competition in the food industry, restaurants, cafes, and bars constantly seek new ways to attract and acquire new customers. Additionally, businesses should always strive to maintain their older customers to establish a standard clientele, which can be more complicated than attracting new clients. So, a restaurant loyalty program is more than necessary to bring in new customers and maintain the loyalty of existing ones.

What is a successful restaurant loyalty program?

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A successful loyalty program aims to increase the number of customers engaged in a business by providing members with privileges and benefits. Thus, this win-win situation promises to increase the business's clientele and benefit customers.

Customer benefits can vary from company to company based on company size, target audience, and other elements that build the company and its objectives. Therefore, if you work in the food industry, it is highly likely that the specific customer rewards program involves food-related discounts, free meals, etc.

In addition, social media can be used to administer the best loyalty and rewards programs in the food industry. In this way, you can enhance your restaurant's reputation and strengthen your social media presence.

3 Customer Loyalty Program Ideas for Loyal Customers

  1. Points-based Programs & Tiered Loyalty Programs

A point-based program is the most well-known and prevalent customer loyalty program, with widespread appeal, and businesses choose to run it with a tiered loyalty program most of the time.

Customers who order food or drinks in a restaurant or a bar will receive the corresponding points. Thus, it depends on your response. For instance, you could offer customers small discounts or a free dessert to accumulate points. And this is where a tiered loyalty program comes in, offering customers varying levels or tiers of benefits depending on their level of engagement.

These programs encourage customers to increase loyalty and spending by providing increasingly valuable benefits and rewards as they progress through the tiers. The core idea is to create a sense of exclusivity and progression for customers, fostering brand loyalty. You can administer the program above by storing clients' progress online or providing them with a loyalty card to redeem points. Additionally, loyalty club members can redeem birthday rewards, such as a complimentary meal for the celebrant.

However, if they choose not to use their points, they can collect them and redeem them for a more expensive gift, such as a complete meal. Thus, you will attract repeat customers who visit your restaurant frequently to accumulate as many points as possible.

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This does not negate the need for high-quality food and beverages, as this is crucial to attracting new and returning customers to your store. Therefore, the high quality of services coupled with loyalty rewards points can increase the number of customers and the customer's lifetime value.

Planning and execution are necessary to ensure that the benefits and rewards offered at each tier are sufficient to motivate customers. In addition, it is crucial that customers clearly understand the rewards they select at each level, as well as the final and most enormous reward.

2. Paid Subscription Programs:

Paid subscription programs are customer loyalty programs that charge a recurring fee in exchange for exclusive benefits and perks. Instead of rewarding customer loyalty or relying on transactional loyalty (based on purchase frequency or amount), these programs aim to foster ongoing engagement and a sense of community among subscribers. Standard subscriber benefits include discounts, early product access, exclusive content, and personalized experiences.

This type of program has subscribers, not just members, and people primarily pay a monthly fee to enjoy the benefits above. In addition, you can combine it with a points-based rewards program and provide the rewards above after a certain number of points.

Regarding your business, you can also run seasonal programs, such as one at Christmas with seasonal gifts such as merchandise, etc.

3. Gamify Loyalty program

A gamified loyalty program enhances the customer experience by incorporating elements of game mechanics and competition. To operate this program, you should develop customer loyalty software that customers can download and use to play games.

This is one of the most uncommon but exciting examples of a customer loyalty program that maintains the highest customer retention levels. Therefore, each time they play, customers can earn badges and rewards.

In addition to exclusive rewards, gamified programs may include missions or challenges for customers to complete. Customers may earn points, for instance, for writing reviews, sharing their purchases on social media, or visiting the restaurant. Completing challenges can result in additional rewards or advancement to the next level. For instance: "Tag us in your story and receive 10% off your next visit."

Gamified loyalty programs can be customized through the app to enhance the user experience. Customers can monitor their progress, view their badges, keep track of their points, and view their standing relative to other participants. Providing visual representations of progress motivates and engages customers.

Running an Effective Customer Loyalty Program

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Building customer loyalty and running a compelling program is time-consuming and requires careful planning and execution to achieve the desired results. So, to accomplish this:

Establish objectives and goals

Which objectives should be met for the loyalty program to be considered successful? How many paid-up loyalty and program members do we wish to have, and why? Before launching a loyalty program, we should answer each of these questions. Additionally, do we wish to emphasize returning customers? All of this can have a decisive impact on our customer loyalty program's structure and promotion.

Identification of the target market and comprehension of their preferences

Following the program's objectives, it is necessary to consider the target audience’s needs and characteristics like age, knowledge, etc.

Selecting the appropriate rewards and incentives

What incentive would satisfy each member of our target audience? Which of the gifts above would appear more alluring to them? What "ultimate" present would excite them? We should consider the customer's preferences throughout the process and the motivations that will lead to their membership.

Integrating mobile apps and technology for seamless experiences

Due to the rapid development of technology, it is a good idea to develop an app to provide our loyal customers with direct access to their points, customer data, rewards programs, etc. Since it will be on their mobile device, this app will be constantly visible to them and serve as a constant reminder of your business, making it more likely that they will consider your restaurant when they are looking for a place to eat, for example.


Offering customer rewards programs and paid loyalty programs that allow customers to collect points, play games, or pay a subscription fee is one of the most effective ways to attract and retain customers for an extended period. An effective loyalty program requires time and ongoing effort, but it can often produce better results than advertising.

Consequently, whether you are a small or large business with numerous stores, you and your customers will benefit from those programs.

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