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Mobile underpins Hooters’ first comprehensive loyalty program

Hooters today launches one of its biggest loyalty and mobile efforts to date, with a rewards-based application and program that incentivizes in-store traffic with sweepstakes and customized offers.

The restaurant’s new HootClub loyalty program includes a mobile application that integrates personalized, in-store offers that are redeemed in-store. Hooters is working with Sparkfly and Zipscene to power the in-store digital rewards and app.

“HootClub is the first comprehensive customer loyalty program for Hooters and the overarching goal is to personalize our communications with guests in order to reward them with relevant offers and enrich all of their experiences with us,” said Chris Duncan, chief innovation officer at Hooters, Atlanta.

“While consumers can redeem deals and access the Hooters loyalty program through numerous forms of media, including mobile, digital, email and print, the HootClub mobile app is central to the initiative,” he said.

“Guests are free to participate in the loyalty program regardless of whether or not they use a mobile phone, but part of the strategy behind the development of HootClub was to cater towards the growing number of Hooters customers who use mobile.”

Personalizing offers
Hooters’ new mobile app and loyalty program builds on a March Madness-themed promotion this year that marked the first time that the restaurant began offering mobile redemptions in-store (see story).

The chain’s new loyalty program takes these mobile redemptions up a notch with an app that lets diners earn rewards based on past orders and how often they eat at the restaurant.

Codes found on the bottom of receipts can be typed into the app to keep track of rewards, and there are different levels of membership based on points that users can compete for.

A number of restaurants including Fatburger, Fazoli’s and Buffalo Wild Wings have stepped up their app-based reward efforts in the past few years as a way to lure in new customers.

Hooters’ new program is slightly different though because it incorporates pieces of data about a consumer — such as purchase behavior — to customize offers towards specific groups of consumers.

For example, a consumer who repeatedly buys wings is likely to receive an offer for a new sauce. Other groups of consumers who are more inclined to buy Hooters’ calendars could receive a free soft drink, per Mr. Duncan.

The loyalty program is currently being tested in Atlanta and will be scaled up to include 200 out of Hooters’ 345 locations in the United States within the next few months.

Additionally, the app serves as a hub for promotional content and information about the brand. It also includes a store locator, menu and social information within the app.

One early example of a loyalty promotion that Hooters is using is a drawing and sweepstakes for a chance to win tickets to a live United Fighting Championship fight.

Streamlining offers
Hooters claims to run point-of-sale systems from four vendors, making it initially difficult for the brand to run nationwide and bigger promotions.

The new loyalty program integrates with all of Hooters’ POS systems so that the chain can accept the same mobile coupons at all locations.

This could potentially help Hooters better understand which offers are most effective in particular parts of the country or what kinds of deals specific demographics are most interested in.

Hooters has been leveraging mobile segmentation for quite some time, specifically around SMS.

Most recently, the sports bar collected 50,000 SMS opt-ins for a Super Bowl ad targeting football fans (see story).

“From the consumer perspective, Hooters is able to offer a program that is available on a device most people carry with them 24 hours a day, so compared to a traditional punch card system, it is much more convenient,” said Catherine Tabor, CEO/founder of Sparkfly, Atlanta.

“From Hooters’ perspective, the other big benefit is that a mobile program like this will provide significantly more info about the consumers than a traditional program, so rather than just seeing the top level info of how many times something was redeemed, they can gain deep insights about their customers,” she said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York