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Auntie Anne’s rolls out a freshly baked loyalty app

Pretzel franchise Auntie Anne’s has become the newest mobile loyalty player rolling out a robust program in assertion of its ability to thrive amidst competition via the intelligent use of technology to directly impact the customer experience.

The “My Pretzel Perks” app works as a rewards system, allocating points for each visit and every dollar spent. There are three tier levels that can be attained based on the number of points a guest earns: Pretzel Fan, Pretzel Lover and Pretzel Perfect.

“We want to encourage a more meaningful and sustained interaction between Auntie Anne’s and our loyal guests – even when they’re not in the mall,” said Heather Neary, Auntie Anne’s chief marketing officer.

“Auntie Anne’s knows that consumers have an endless number of choices when it comes to snacking and dining options. We developed this program to cater to our loyal guests – rewarding them for their patronage and encouraging repeat visits.”

“Our goal is really to provide value to our guests any way that we can in order to keep them coming back to our counters. The app allows us to connect with them throughout their week and also allows us to reward our loyal guests with special offers, news on new product launches, and more,” she said.

Auntie Anne’s has 1,600 locations worldwide.

Twisting taste buds
In today’s competitive marketplace, it is more important for restaurant operators to give every customer the complete experience that convinces him or her to return. The impact of repeat customers cannot be overstated, as according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2013 Restaurant Technology Forecast, they represent an average of 71 percent of sales at quick service restaurants.

However, it is becoming more difficult to maintain repeat business. A majority of restaurant operators surveyed across all segments said that customer loyalty was harder to maintain than two years ago.

After downloading the app on an iOS or Android device, an account can be set up in just a few simple steps, and users receive a free pretzel just for signing up. Each visit earns guest 20 points, and each dollar spent adds another 10 points to a loyalty account. Every time a guest reaches 300 points, a reward in the form of a free pretzel is sent directly to the app for the guest to redeem.

Pretzel Perks are also earned when each individual tier is achieved, and range from special discounts and offers, to free products, souvenir cups and t-shirts. In addition, the app contains helpful features including a listing of menu items and a store locator.

The launch also enables Auntie Anne’s to evolve beyond the transaction at its counters, and  allows the company to better track customer redemption of coupons, make unique offers based on customer behavior, and help achieve increased sales through greater customer frequency.

The “L” word
Loyal customers are one of the most valuable parts to any business, but are particularly cherished by QSRs. However, as the market for loyalty solutions continues to evolve, the desired scope of a mobile loyalty solution can vary as well. In the end, the core problem remains the same – how can restaurants build and retain the loyalty of their customers to drive growth within their businesses?

Restaurants challenged with offering a more enhanced customer experience for several reasons.

For one, the inability to identify the best customers prevents the enhancement of the guest experience, and neglects catering to their changing tastes.

Dining establishments are looking for ways in which the brand experience can be heightened, even when paying the cashier.  The transaction process is such a critical component to the overall experience, but restaurants are challenged with how that process can become more meaningful to their guests. In addition, restaurants are looking for meaningful ways in which their brand can keep interacting with their guests after the dining experience.

As competition between quick service restaurants is growing, offering a differentiated brand experience becomes even more challenging. Auntie Anne’s has equipped itself to become a triple threat, offering on-site, at-home and on-the-go engagement that will help it resonate with consumers aside from luring them with sensory activations such as smell at the mall.

“This loyalty program is customized to our loyal fans, and the rewards are unique to our brand. It’s our hope that the fans who use this app and attain ‘Pretzel Perfect’ status or receive the reward for the new Auntie Anne’s t-shirt, really feel that they are a part of the larger Auntie Anne’s community,” Ms. Neary said.

“We recognize that we’re not the only ones doing a loyalty program, but we do know that our loyal fans are very passionate about the brand, and we aim to create more loyal fans and also offer meaningful rewards to help our fans enjoy our brand even more.”

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York