Case Study

Leading Restaurant Chain Capitalizes on the Power of Personalization in a Loyalty Program

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Challenge

The restaurant chain, with close to 2,000 outlets across the country, had a loyalty card program that executives didn’t believe was living up to its potential. The program connected with approximately 20 million program members via email, delivering a mix of company news and updates along with special recommendations and product offers. Marketers particularly wanted to improve the quality and effectiveness of those emails and better understand the best messages and timing for customers, on an individual basis.

The company approached Antuit to revamp the loyalty program in line with three primary business objectives: increase sales through larger ticket values, improve profit, and boost the number of transactions or customer visits, with the ability to toggle among those objectives on a flexible basis.

One of the best known fast casual restaurants in the U.S. has been able to leverage targeted improvements to its customer loyalty program to drive millions of dollars in additional revenue, with the promise of more to come as the company builds on its success at personalization.

Solution

Antuit started the engagement with a limited-duration pilot program, during which all the loyalty program’s customer information was ingested and analyzed, to determine what those customers were buying, when, and where, along with relevant demographic information.

The customer account records that Antuit built from this data provided a longitudinal understanding of customers and how they interacted with the restaurants, looking at variables such as: Did they visit only on weekdays? Were they consistent in the food that they ordered? How did they react to specific special offers? 

Antuit then coded all of the content in the messages available for emails to loyalty program members. This involved classifying the messages in terms of their emphasis on healthy eating, seasonal offerings, savory specialties, salads vs. other entrees, beverages, special offers, and several other variables.

Next, Antuit built a model that blended customer data with the message variables and enabled the restaurant chain to identify the right piece of content for customers and personalize it, individually, on an ongoing basis. 

This approach enabled the Antuit model to track what individual customers did after they received their program emails and analyze through artificial intelligence the most effective messages in terms of driving increased loyalty customer activity.

Results

The pilot program focused on a subset of about 10 percent of the restaurant’s loyalty customers, and immediately resulted in an increased email open rate of as much as 30 percent. Sales to those loyalty customers increased by more than 10 percent over sales to program customers who weren’t part of the pilot. That demonstrated clearly to the company that personalizing messages and targeting customers individually was the way forward for its entire loyalty program membership.

Since the improved messaging, targeting, and personalization was rolled out to all the restaurant chain’s loyalty program members, the company has seen increased sales among that customer group of $5 million to $7 million per month.

Antuit has also worked with the company to analyze store-by-store data for customers who aren’t part of the loyalty program, and has been able to help the restaurants target those customers through improved messaging and special offers on digital menu boards, for instance, and customer kiosks. In addition, Antuit is working with the company to implement catering algorithms and analyses of the best cross-selling and up-selling recommendations.

The company’s revenue increases have continued to grow since the Antuit program went into a steady state, and Antuit projects that the resulting additional revenue could grow to as much as $200 million annually. That gain will come as analysis continues to refine the timing, message content, and opportunities to reach out to the restaurant’s most loyal customers and through a move to expand from email to mobile outreach to those customers.

 

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