Old loyalty programs just don’t work anymore.
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 to meet potent brand and tech challenges.
Pizza Hut engaged Material to help define program and experience strategies, and lead naming, branding, and development initiatives centered on a modern view of loyalty. Our overall goal was to design, test, and build a loyalty program that wins back customers, cements stronger relationships, 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 in only six 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.
An entirely 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.
It’s a best-in-class experience, and built to stay that way: flexible, transparent, and scalable.
Meeting customers where they are.
To capitalize on Pizza Hut’s existing customer database, we 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 six months.
Results that just keep delivering.
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 six straight quarters of same-store sales decline.
Because our solution is built on personalization and predictive behavior, it delivers rewards people are craving, which makes them both more frequent and valuable customers. This was reflected in the 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 owns one of the biggest and best loyalty programs in the industry — today and tomorrow.