Loyalty and Yogurt

Jan 3, 2012

The beginning of a new year is the time when we think about trends in the market and try to predict where business is headed for the coming year. Loyalty marketing shows no sign of slowing down as we constantly see new programs launched across many industries and at all levels of business. In quick serve restaurant, there is no hotter concept than frozen yogurt stores. As we navigated our holiday shopping, it seemed there was a new frozen yogurt shop on every corner.

When we recently walked into a new Menchies and saw the “MySmileage” rewards program, the two themes converged. Loyalty and Yogurt just might be a leading indicator of more good news for our business in 2012.

Menchies was launched in 2007 by two aspiring entrepreneurs and the website boasts over 130 stores today across the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, Jordan and soon in several additional countries around the world. The concept is similar to other self serve yogurt stores, offering customers the opportunity to design their own blend of yogurt and toppings and pay by the weight at check out. As Menchies likes to say, customers can simply “Mix, Weigh and Pay”.

The MySmileage program reflects the friendly brand promise that Menchies is “built on smiles” and a welcome kit is nicely packaged for customers with simple explanation of enrollment offers and a membership card and key fob with bar code included for identification.

Members of the MySmileage program earn 25 Smiles for enrolling in the program and 1 Smile for every dollar spent on frozen treats thereafter. 50 Smiles can be redeemed for $5.00 to be spent in store, meaning the program offers a 10% earning on program spend. Members also receive a $5 credit on their accounts for their birthday and can use the freebie for 2 weeks before and after their actual birthday date.

Looking into the program rules a bit closer, customers are encouraged to present their membership card upon each visit to earn Smiles, but can also register a phone number and use it for identification in store. Smiles earned must be redeemed on a return visit, a best practice for most retailers that encourages the all important bounce back visit. Smiles don’t expire, leaving Members with a good taste in their mouth after earning Smiles over the longer term.

Looking into the bigger picture of Loyalty Marketing, it seems that a customer rewards program has become part of the “go to market” kit for many businesses, especially franchise operations. It’s clear that a pre-designed rewards program that drives customer visits and repurchase is a selling tool to build a franchise network.

Our question is how this “go to market” kit will evolve in 2012. With so much focus on mobile applications, gamification, and customer experience, we expect the standard design of rewards programs for small to medium business will evolve past the bar code carrying key fob and move to a more digitized and portable medium.

One thing we know, if we are in the mood for frozen yogurt, it won’t be hard to find in 2012. It also won’t be hard to earn freebies in the process as loyalty programs increasingly become a centerpiece of franchise marketing.