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How mid-size pizza chains leverage mobile loyalty to starve off bigwigs

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October 8, 2015

Pizza chains are layering up mobile loyalty

Pizza chains are layering up mobile loyalty

A heaping of smaller to mid-size pizza brands are leveraging mobile loyalty and geofencing to attract more consumers and their taste buds during National Pizza Month in October, proving that rewards programs are paramount in starving off competition from heavyweights such as Pizza Hut and Domino’s.

Fourteen pizza franchises, including California Pizza Kitchen and Beggar’s Pizza, are tapping Paytronix’s mobile rewards programs to power campaigns celebrating National Pizza Month, which are set to leverage tactics including geofencing, instant win prizes and free items. As major national chains dominate the food and beverage sector, smaller and mid-size marketers must use a slew of mobile tools to fuel in-store traffic and maintain repeat visitors.

“Adding a mobile component to the loyalty behavior modification lever enables marketers to display how close guests are to earning a reward,” said Kristen House, mobile product manager at Paytronix, Newton, MA. “If the reward has been earned, marketers can then remind guests that there’s a reward available and let them know when the reward expires.

“We’ve seen restaurants reduce the time between visits – overall increasing visits, by simply communicating these relevant, one-to-one messages to their guests through mobile messages including email, SMS, push, and geofenced messages. In some instances, a simple geofenced message with a reward reminder has resulted in a 30 percent same-day visit rate among message recipients.”

Tapping into loyalty
Pizza fans will certainly receive the pampering treatment from their favorite brands this October as companies gear up to commemorate National Pizza Month, all the while driving sales. Beggar’s Pizza is leveraging Paytronix’s platform to provide its Big Cheese loyalty club members with a complimentary small thin-crust pie for each purchase of a one-topping large deep dish or family thin pizza.

Meanwhile, Grotto Pizza is layering social media onto its mobile sales strategy by kicking off its campaign with an instant win competition for loyalty members who want to receive free pizza, cash and other prizes.

Fans may comment, like and share the brand’s Facebook posts for a chance to receive prizes. However, the chain is also ramping up in-store customer traffic by treating each guest dining in or ordering takeout and delivery to a free reward on his or her Swirl Rewards Club card.

This strategy will likely undercut competition away from major marketers in the space, such as Pizza Hut and Domino’s. Mobile loyalty should be a paramount concern for all smaller and mid-size chains, as consumers generally respond favorably to giveaways and deep discounts.

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California Pizza Kitchen offers a separate loyalty club app

These tactics may fuel customers to travel a bit further to purchase food from such a chain, as opposed to dining at a brand with a larger bricks-and-mortar presence and a storefront in their vicinity.

California Pizza Kitchen is also recognizing the revenue potential from geofencing on mobile. The company is sending targeted messages to its Pizza Dough loyalty members to advertise its October promotion, which offers $10 off a $40 purchase.

“The primary reason our customers turn to geofencing is because they see the inherent value in delivering highly relevant and timely content to their guests,” Ms. House said. “Not only does this drive higher response rates, but loyalty members tend to stay opted in to various messaging channels longer when the brand delivers relevant content.

“Geofencing is a tool that enables customers like California Pizza Kitchen to send the right message, at the right time and place. And relevancy improves over time, since geofencing also brings insight from the location-based data to help identify and engage members near their locations each day.”

Up against bigwigs
Offering valuable rewards to customers may be one of the aspects that stands between smaller pizza chains and their larger counterparts. If a guest has an affinity for Beggar’s Pizza but receives more discounts and free items from Domino’s, he or she may be quick to switch brand allegiance.

National chains have also been doing their part in bolstering their mobile strategy.

Pizza Hut’s 1,471 locations in mainland China augmented in-store dining by enabling customers to receive movie ticket prizes in the WeChat messaging application, as well as special discounts and offers, as a reward for interacting with beacon technology via their smartphones (see story).

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Domino’s has a personal voice ordering assistant

Meanwhile, a Domino’s Pizza executive at the Mobile Marketing Association’s SM2 Innovation Summit 2015 discussed the brand’s strong digital sales, which stem from enabling mobile-savvy consumers to place pizza orders via an application, social media, a virtual voice assistant and an online site to ensure maximum convenience and reach (see story).

“The most important aspect of mobile loyalty is using the loyalty data coupled with other sources of data to deliver convenient, relevant interactions with the brand regardless of how far the guest is from the bricks-and-mortar location,” Ms. House said. “Whether it’s engagement via the online ordering channel, through the loyalty program, or some other feature in the app such as a gaming function, the brand has to continually deliver value to the guest.

“That value comes in the form of convenience and relevance.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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Alex Samuely is staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach her at alex@mobilemarketer.com.

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