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La Madeleine butters up loyalty with new mobile rewards app

Bakery chain La Madeleine Country French Café is heating up customer engagement and loyalty by introducing an incentive-based mobile application, giving the first consumers to register the opportunity to win a trip to France.

The Dallas-based chain is aiming to bring French culture to life via the new mobile app, which rewards users across four loyalty levels. La Madeleine’s use of a major incentive – a complimentary trip to France – will likely result in a surge in initial downloads, especially as consumers pick and choose which of their favorite restaurant chains’ apps they will make room for on their smartphones.

“Before building our loyalty program, Bonne Rewards, we asked our guests what they wanted from la Madeleine,” said John Cahill, president of la Madeleine. “The results were convincing – 95 percent said they were interested in a la Madeleine rewards program and 86 percent said they owned a smartphone.

“We had debated what type of loyalty program to build, and these results convinced us that a mobile app would be the best, most guest-friendly solution.”

Baking up engagement
The Bonne Rewards app, created by LevelUP, aims to bring la Madeleine into the mobile age. Frequent customers of the bakery chain can work their way through the four available loyalty levels to snag all of the available rewards.

The primary level, Bonjour, offers users a complimentary pastry or piece of cake on their birthdays, as well as holiday event invites, monthly recipes and customized offers. New registrants will also receive a free butter croissant or lemon Madeleine upon downloading the app.

Levels two through four, which are named Magnifique, Superieur and Crème de la Crème, provide additional benefits, such as one surprise reward each month. These prizes may consist of a loaf of complimentary bread, or a free meal.

The potential of reaching these coveted levels will spur consumers in their bid to reach maximum loyalty status. While a plethora of food marketers already offer mobile loyalty apps, la Madeleine is well-poised to stand out from the crowd by segmenting customers based on their engagement and purchasing frequency.

“The number one goal of Bonne Rewards app is to build guest retention,” Mr. Cahill said. “We have an extremely loyal following at la Madeleine, and our program is designed to reward those guests.

“So in turn, yes, we expect to see an uptick in traffic.”

Consumers will also be able to pay for meals with their smartphones, order food for takeout, send egift cards through the app and earn rewards for referring friends.

The app is available for iOS and Android devices.

Kicking off contests
To commemorate the rewards app’s launch, la Madeleine is enabling eligible users who download the app during a specified period to have the opportunity to win a trip for two to France. The prize, which is valued at $10,000, includes airfare and accommodations.

This incentive, coupled with the automatic free pastry or croissant that users get upon registering for the first time, will undoubtedly fuel more app downloads.

Other restaurants in the space have set the bar at offering free menu items to new customers, a position that la Madeleine is vastly surpassing.

Last summer, the Cheesecake Factory piloted a new app that enabled diners to split and pay the bill via their smartphones, as well as receive a complimentary slice of cheesecake upon sign-up (see story).

Similarly, McDonald’s previewed the United States version of its mobile app with consumers in the Philadelphia region by offering a free menu item for each download, proving that incentives are king in the food-and-beverage sector (see story).

“Our official app launched in all cafés just over a week ago,” Mr. Cahill said. “Feedback thus far has been overwhelmingly positive from guests and operators. We’ve seen app downloads jump and over 23 percent of users have made a transaction.

“The program is designed to reward our loyal, long-time guests – in a way it is our ‘Merci’ to them,” he said. “It is an A to Z app – not only is the rewards structure fun and engaging, but guests can also pay through the app, send digital gift cards and get rewarded for referring a friend.

“We are already working on app optimizations, including an order-ahead functionality.”