If you are keen to launch a simple digital loyalty programme in the convenience or quick service restaurant industry, TGI Fridays UK Rewards launch in 2018 is an interesting case study to consider.
As an industry leader and iconic brand, the company has been privately held by Sentinel Partners since 2014, and currently employs over 74,000 people who run its 870 restaurants in 55 countries, mainly owned and operated by franchisees. The brand is credited with inventing the term “happy hour”, as well as introducing Jack Daniels-branded food items to American casual dining and at the time of the acquisition, TGI Fridays also boasted the largest international presence of any U.S. casual dining chain.
The UK Rewards programme launch was the logical next step for the chain, which had already been offering UK customers the ability to go bill-free since 2017 – a solution expected to reduce payment delays from an average of 10-12 minutes to just a few seconds.
The decision to launch the UK Rewards programme was made by the company’s new Chief Marketing Officer, Steve Flanagan, a veteran of Starbucks UK, and was one of the first improvements he introduced in his new role.
In this article, we’ll review the customer value proposition as well as some of the business highlights and success announced by the programme in the weeks following its launch, and some insights on which digital technologies the company is focusing on in order to drive its global development.
How It Works:
- The programme is a spend-based loyalty programme, with a currency called “Stripes”.
- Members earn 1 Stripe for every pound they spend, which are valid for one year.
- The programme offers four reward levels as shown below, called Mover, Shaker, Rocker and Roller – reflecting the brand’s fun identity.
- There are no membership fees charged to join the programme.
- New members are awarded twenty-five Stripes for joining the programme, and another twenty-five if they refer another member.
- The app promises exclusive offers for members on an ongoing basis also – presumably once some profiling and segmentation analysis has been completed.
- Stripes are credited to the relevant loyalty accounts by using the app to scan the barcode on the till receipt. This means that the responsibility of tracking the member’s spend relies on the member themselves rather than the restaurant staff.
TGI Fridays App Images
- Depending on their level of spend (and Stripes earned), members earn a free reward from their Rewards tier on the menu as shown below.
- The other main reward is a birthday reward of free drinks for member plus up to 12 friends with a purchased meal.
TGI Fridays UK Rewards
The following results were announced four weeks after the programme’s launch:
- Loyalty Visits: Up 61 percent
- Signups: Up 30 percent
- Unique guests: Up 51 percent
- Loyalty Revenue: Up 66 percent
- Referred users with a verified visit: Up 300 percent
These results certainly look very impressive however would be even more interesting to see the latest results after a year of operation described by Flanagan as “only the beginning”.
The press release also illustrated a key objective for the programme with the comment that “the ability to communicate with existing and potential guests at the time and place they choose has immense value”.
A recent interview with TGI Fridays describes a “growing appetite” for artificial intelligence (AI) and personalisation, further confirming that connecting with customers is a top priority for the chain. In it, James Washington, product manager for digital platforms, explained “we want to engage with and talk to guests across multiple channels” with push messaging quoted as a key communication tool being used to drive repeat orders with single-click payment.
Digital technology has also been credited with driving the growth of “to-go” orders – a service not normally associated with TGI Fridays due to its traditional focus on cocktails and drinks as a core part of the dining experience.
Fridays has also developed and enabled voice ordering through Alexa voice assistant devices with instant payment through Amazon Pay as shown in this video.
These tools and digital marketing capabilities are clearly creating opportunities for this global leader to expand the range of TGI Friday’s reach beyond their restaurants to include customers who prefer to dine at home or at work.
It’s fantastic to see great brands like TGI Fridays investing in loyalty and connecting digitally with their customers, further evidence that retailers and restaurants need to be as prominent, accessible and memorable online as they are offline.
While their approach to rewarding their UK customers is clear and simple (which customers love), their decision to expect them to claim their Stripes manually may cause frustration and apathy over time. This earning process was most likely a result of a need to simplify the IT demands on the business (and eliminate the need to connect their loyalty platform to their point of sale system), however the goal of most retailers is generally to remove friction for their customers, rather than add an extra step in.
No doubt, the Executive team will be watching closely to assess whether the early successes they announced last year will continue and improve over time, and if customers will see the value in engaging to claim. We’ll also be watching with interest.
Liquid Barcodes is a leading global loyalty and digital marketing technology company specialized for the convenience store and foodservice industries. Our proprietary cloud-based technology platform allow retailers to create and manage their digital marketing campaigns with a proprietary process we call the “customer connection cycle’ to engage, promote and reward customers activities in real-time across digital and media channels.
How we do it:
We have developed the most advanced loyalty and digital marketing technology platform specifically for convenience store and foodservice retailers globally.
Retailers use our self-service dashboard to create and manage loyalty driven marketing campaigns that increase purchases with their existing customers, as well as effectively target and acquire new customers through partners or paid media channels.
One core component of live loyalty is gamification. We have gamified branding, loyalty and promotions. We believe this approach is essential in order to get customers’ attention and ultimately truly engage them with repeatable actions thereby winning their loyalty.
Check out some of our exciting/proven results here:
Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes and Independent Loyalty Consultant.
With over twenty-five years marketing experience, I specialise in loyalty marketing consulting, managing consumer loyalty propositions, strategy and operations. In addition to working with Liquid Barcodes, my clients have included Telefonica O2, Three Mobile, Electric Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and The Entertainer, as well as Avios – the global points currency for some of the world’s top airlines. I am also a judge for the Loyalty Magazine Awards.