Today we’re reviewing Leon Restaurants – a UK-based restaurant chain focused on “naturally fast food”. Leon was established in London in 2004 with an award-winning and innovative concept focused on emerging values such as natural ingredients, plant-based recipes and sustainable business practices which have since become essential insights across the food industry, yet were way ahead of their time in 2004.
The brand won the title “Best New Restaurant in Great Britain” after launch, and is also a founding member of the Sustainable Restaurants Association, an organisation set up in 2017 to “build environmentally restorative and socially progressive hospitality sector in the UK.” With over 70 restaurants in six countries, the company is growing rapidly, it was included in the 2017 The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 and it seems clear that much of its success comes from building a business based on an authentic commitment to contemporary consumer lifestyle trends.
Leon Restaurants created their “mission-based brand” in 2004
The Leon Lovers Club
Alongside its innovative brand and healthy fast food, as always its their approach to loyalty in the quick service industry that we are most interested in. The Leon Lovers Club is a simple programme that feels functional – yet with untapped potential to truly build consumer loyalty.
Loyalty Proposition – The Leon Lovers Club
According to their website, the benefits of joining their loyalty club are mainly focused on the one free meal you are given when you join. It’s a relatively generous joining incentive which suggests a keen interest in building the Club membership, however beyond that one clear benefit, members are simply promised:
- “Regular” offers & treats.
- A monthly newsletter including new restaurants opening.
- Invitations to any parties, tastings or events we may put on.
What They’re Doing Well
In my view, in addition to the generous joining incentive, from a loyalty perspective, Leon is also managing its customer’s data in an impressive way, ensuring transparency and customer control beyond what many bigger companies offer.
Below is a screenshot of my profile, accessible only with a unique code which was sent to my email address, and which was only valid for five minutes. Even when I logged in, my personal data is not published on screen, allowing me to share it here, yet every field is edit-able, and even the option to delete my data is clearly offered.
In an era where trust is the single most important element in building customer loyalty, this technology-led approach saves admin time for the brand, while impressing customers that European data privacy laws are being respected and managed professionally.
Direct access to managing or deleting personal data drives trust and loyalty.
What They Could Do Better
The welcome meal of a Leon “Little Box” is worth on average £5.25 – so it’s likely that many customers are happy to share their data with the brand in return. However we see plenty of opportunities to improve the programme for customers:
- There are no clear benefits for loyalty beyond the joining incentive. Most loyalty programmes offer a clear incentive that drives increased frequency or spend. Leon Lovers Club is operating in one of the most competitive restaurant markets in the world, and yet beyond its menu, the brand isn’t offering a reason to build a habit of eating with them.
- The programme does not seem to track individual customer behaviour, so it lacks the data or any opportunity to cross-sell or up-sell its members. The current programme is instead simply a marketing channel to contact customers but it is missing the chance to drive increased spend or frequency, or even incentivise trial of new menu items.
- The programme membership form includes the option to include your date of birth – or not. The best loyalty programmes realise that birthdays are great days to show how well you know your customers and give something back. We also recommend data should not be captured unless there is a plan to actually use it. This optional approach therefore is not adding value to the brand or the consumer so without a clear reason to capture it and use it, this data field would be better excluded.
- Given their mission-focused business model, Leon Lovers Club would benefit hugely by including more emotional elements – a family programme would encourage awareness of their children’s food menu, or an option to simply share reviews on social media channels with relevant treats and rewards would also be a perfect fit for the brand’s demographic.
Leon has clearly focused its business on doing “a few things brilliantly well” and with record revenues in excess of £95 million in 2018, there’s no doubt their product and pricing are connecting with customers who love the combination of super fast, affordable and yet healthy food. But these basics are not enough to drive profitability so ongoing losses remain a critical challenge for the business to overcome.
With new customers costing so much more to acquire than simply retaining existing ones, we believe that Leon would benefit hugely from increasing their investment in a comprehensive digital strategy and a more compelling loyalty programme to truly captivate its customers.
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.