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Consumer Study Finds that Attractive Restaurant Rewards Programs Increase Guest Visits by 35%

An attractive restaurant rewards program would increase a consumer’s visit rate by an average of 35% according to the results of Loyalogy’s second annual U.S. study tracking consumer attitudes and behavior regarding restaurant rewards programs.

“Our latest study provides consistently clear evidence directly from consumers regarding the effectiveness of restaurant rewards programs and the importance of such programs to restaurant guests,” Dennis Duffy, President of Loyalogy, said in a press release.

The study was based on detailed survey responses to 55 questions from 1,100 consumers across the U.S.

Here are the key takeaways from the study:

Nearly three-fourths of consumers (73%) report they would recommend a restaurant more to others if that restaurant offered an appealing rewards program. This figure is up from 65% in the 2013 study.

86% of consumers prefer a rewards program with a clearly-defined proposition in which they earn rewards based on spending or visits rather than a program built solely on periodic, surprise free items.

43% prefer a program that offers points which convert to rewards which may be spent like cash at the restaurant.

43% prefer a program that is based upon visits, such as eight visits spending a minimum amount each visit would generate a free meal.

14% prefer a program that offers surprise free menu items that may be used for a certain period of time with no pre-defined criteria for receiving that free item.

Consumers desire a simple reward program enrollment process in the restaurant and would prefer to supply additional information online after they have left the restaurant.

Although consumer wallets are bulging with plastic cards, 60% of respondents stated that they don’t mind carrying a membership card for a rewards program if it’s necessary.

A single rewards program membership covering multiple restaurant brands has significant appeal to consumers; 75% of respondents agreed they would like to have one rewards program membership that was honored at multiple restaurant chains. This figure is up from 73% in the 2013 study.

Consumers participate in an average of three restaurant rewards programs, up 15% from the 2013 study which found participation at an average of 2.6 restaurant rewards programs.

Consumers are visiting restaurants more frequently with an average of 13 times per month, up 26% from the 2013 study which found an average of 10.3 visits per month.

The 25- to 34 year-old age segment, which includes the oldest members of the Millennial Generation, demonstrates a more intense use of restaurants and rewards programs. In this study this group is referred to as Millennials with Means because it falls into the Millennial age range and has a household income of $75,000 or more.

Millennials with Means visit restaurants 40% more (18.5 visits per month versus 13 visits per month for the overall population).

Millennials with Means participate in more than twice as many restaurant rewards programs (6.5 restaurant rewards programs versus three restaurant rewards programs for the overall population).

Millennials with Means are more responsive to rewards programs; for this group an appealing restaurant rewards program will yield a visit increase of 43% versus 35% for the overall population.

Millennials with Means are much more interested in managing all aspects of their rewards program participation with a smart phone app. A total of 57% of this group expressed a desire to do everything using a smart phone app versus 35% for the overall population.

The Loyalogy consumer research study was conducted through an online survey of U.S. consumers between the ages of 25 and 65 with household incomes of $75,000 or more. The respondents were selected from an online research panel provided by The Sample Network. The survey consisted of 55 questions in categories that include:

Restaurant visit rate and spending, including breakdown of those who visit restaurants just for pleasure or both pleasure and business.

QSR.

Fast Casual.

Full-Service Casual.

Full-Service Fine Dining.

Visit rates in certain categories such as:

Coffee shops.

Traditional delivery/carry out pizza restaurants.

Gourmet pizza restaurants.

Take and bake pizza usage from specialty brands and gourmet grocers.

Gourmet burgers - also referred to as 'better burgers.'

Bar and grill.

Participation rate in restaurant rewards programs.

Usage of online services (website or mobile app) such as Open Table, Yelp, Urban Spoon and Trip Advisor.

Usage of online ordering (website or mobile app).

Relative appeal of 14 different rewards program benefits.

Attitudes about 9 different statements regarding carrying membership cards, using a phone number as identifier and receiving promotional e-mail messages from rewards programs.

Attitudinal statements regarding the impact of rewards programs on behavior.

Demographic characteristics.

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