Buffalo Wild Wings’ Innovative Loyalty Program Helps Move the Needle

When Buffalo Wild Wings launched its Blazin’ Rewards loyalty program nationwide in late June, company officials sought to offer a meaningful rewards experience to increase guest affinity and loyalty.

Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith, who has served in that position since 1996 and will continue to serve as president and CEO until the end of the year or until a successor has been named, talked about the loyalty program during Wednesday’s third-quarter earnings conference call.

“The Blazin’ Rewards loyalty program currently has 3.5 million members, 50 percent higher than expectated,” Smith said. “At this point, enrollment, attachment, and incremental revenue associated with loyalty are exceeding expectations. We are getting a wealth of information on our guest affinities, preferences, and spending behavior. We are actively using the data to personalize the offers we are presenting to them, just targeting the lapsed guest with bonus loyalty points on their favorite day of the week, or using a specific visual asset in our messaging based on the guest past food purchases. Early indications are that the hyper-targeted campaigns are resulting in more profitable engagement with the brand.”

Smith is proud of the “great strides” the company has made in executing its strategic plan and continuing to innovate to stay ahead of the competition.

“We are making progress against our initiatives that reflected on our third-quarter performance,” she added. “Our teams in the field and at the home office are executing on the cost savings initiative of our fiscal fitness program and we are exceeding our goals on savings.”

As part of the company’s fiscal fitness savings target, officials transitioned to a dynamic restaurant management structure that will inspire synergy and connection between teams.

“It connects restaurant management to the overall Buffalo Wild Wings strategy, matches industry standards, and provides an opportunity for role-based manager training,” Smith explained. “Roles and activities are defined to help leaders execute strategies and initiatives with clarity and continue to build a vibrant sales culture in our restaurant. This management structure reduces spans to provide real-time feedback and coaching to team members with the goal of reducing our turnover. Our same-store sales have a high correlation with our guests’ willingness to recommend and fans rate this attribute on friendliness, exceptional food, and beverage quality, a clean atmosphere all are meeting their needs for speed and convenience. As we seek to gain momentum on improving our same-store sales trends, it’s important to remember that it’s all about the fundamentals in the restaurant industry.”

Kate Hogenson, senior loyalty consultant, Kobie Marketing, talked to Loyalty360 about what Buffalo Wild Wings is doing from a customer loyalty perspective.

“What’s most striking about Buffalo Wild Wings’ new program is how ambitious and truly innovative it is compared to many initial program rollouts,” Hogenson explained. “The rewards are well differentiated, giving members plenty of choices for redemption. Giving each member some bonus points for group check-in is a fun new feature particularly well-suited for a QSR rewards program. And what is more, Buffalo Wild Wings is acting on the preferences and behavioral data they collect from program members to personalize offers so that they are part of a strategy that really helped to move the needle for Starbucks, increasing spend per member by 20 percent.”

Jon Siegal, vice president client relationships, Stellar Loyalty, offered his views on Buffalo Wild Wings to Loyalty360.

Buffalo Wild Wings’ results from its loyalty program is further proof that brands who are ‘best in class’ capture every possible customer data signal and use that information to drive better results with their guests,” Siegal said.

Evan Magliocca, brand marketing manager for Baseman Insights & Marketing, told Loyalty360 that Buffalo Wild Wing’s loyalty program seems to be ahead of the competition.

“It’s a well-rounded program based on fundamental metrics and CRM, whereas most restaurant programs are one-dimensional on points,” Magliocca said. “Quick service, chains, and sports restaurants are struggling today to find their unique value with younger generations. Loyalty is a great motivator to keep traffic coming in the door and win customers, especially when it’s personalized, targeted, and driven by fundamental metrics like the Blazin’ Rewards program.”

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