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Delivering A Modern Loyalty Program

man delivering pizza as part of customer loyalty program

From discovery to deployment, we introduced Pizza Hut to the new way to win at loyalty. Our modern thinking, architecture, and execution produced a platform that blew competitors away.

modern loyalty program


We aimed to win back customers and provide a competitive differentiator for the Pizza Hut brand, ultimately driving significant business results.


Material designed, tested, and built a Modern Loyalty program from scratch. By placing the customer at the center and rethinking outdated programs, we delivered big for Pizza Hut.

Why It's Useful

Restaurant loyalty is broken. But we know how to fix it. In Modern Loyalty, the customer experience comes first. Then comes a flexible tech platform that’s extensible and quick to market. We used this new approach to take Pizza Hut to new levels of usefulness.


We gave Pizza Hut a loyalty program for the modern age. And since launch, company sales experienced a 6% turnaround in the first year.

  • 19 weeks from test to national launch
  • 11 legacy technologies integrated
  • 20+ Pizza Hut stakeholders involved

Old loyalty programs don't work

Restaurant loyalty programs are everywhere, but that doesn’t mean anyone is actually using them. New research suggests that customers aren’t getting the rewards they want, the way they want them. And companies aren’t too happy either. Most off-the-shelf platforms are expensive, take too long to get to market, have trouble syncing with existing in-house technologies, and don’t match up with a company’s business and financial needs.

As competitors were ramping up loyalty efforts and gaining market share, Pizza Hut needed to move fast.

Rising up to the challenge

Pizza Hut partnered with Material to help define a program strategy, user experience, naming, branding, and development centered on a modern view of loyalty. Our overall goal was to design, test, and build a Modern Loyalty program that wins back customers and provides a competitive differentiator for the brand, ultimately driving a significant increase in sales.

Additionally, Material needed to transition Pizza Hut’s millions of existing email subscribers into a Modern Loyalty program in only 6 months. So we needed to create a program that empowered consumers to earn and burn rewards the way they wanted, while also creating more value for Pizza Hut’s business. As Pizza Hut is mostly owned by franchisees, it was important to make sure whatever Material developed received buy-in from the vast majority of the company’s franchisees.

Finally, with a client like Pizza Hut, the solution needed to be technically scalable, as traffic for online orders could reach extreme levels for big events like the Super Bowl.



A new approach

We needed to provide a transparent, flexible, and best-in-class experience that placed the customer’s behavior and desires at the center of the program. But how? With a three-pronged Modern Loyalty approach, that’s how.

  1. Modern Thinking: Technology provides a seamless experience for digital era thinkers. Rewards are accessible, transparent, and flexible, and the experience is adaptive and personalized.
  2. Modern Architecture: Microservices architecture is completely platform agnostic and connects all the technologies together—allowing for flexibility and scalability.
  3. Modern Execution: We bring the solution to market as quickly and economically as possible. A test-and-learn structure allows us to optimize, while a flexible platform lets us interact with customers in any medium, both now and into the future.

Meeting customers where they are

To capitalize on Pizza Hut’s existing customer database, Material needed to understand the data from a historical standpoint. We identified crucial points in the customer lifecycle for lapsing, churning, winning back, and gaining a new customer, then created the perfect messaging for each. By delivering the right message to the right person at the right time, Material turned Pizza Hut’s existing customers into true Hut Lovers.


Testing our way to market

Another key challenge was that Pizza Hut wanted to get to market fast. They were worried—correctly—that if they waited a year to implement a loyalty program, they would miss their customers’ current demands. We were able to get to market in half that time through a minimum viable product approach. After finding out just what customers wanted, we developed a prototype loyalty program, which we tested in market with existing customers. This test phase allowed us to iterate fast, and develop a mature program in 6 months.



Happy customers, happy client

It all led to some impressive results. It only took us 14 weeks to get to a test launch, and then an additional 5 weeks to go fully nationwide. All while integrating 11 pieces of legacy technology into the MSL and meeting the needs of over 20 stakeholders. In addition, we saw that in the first quarter of the program launch Pizza Hut reversed 6 straight quarters of same-store sales decline.

Because the Modern Loyalty solution is built on personalization and predictive behavior, Material delivers rewards people are craving, which makes them both more frequent and valuable customers. This was reflected in this year’s annual American Customer Satisfaction Index, where Pizza Hut jumped 5 points to record the top spot among national pizza chains. And because our solution is built to scale, made to last, and quick to launch, Pizza Hut became a very happy customer of ours.

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About the Author

Material is a modern marketing services company powered by sophisticated analytics, deep human understanding, and design thinking.