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TGI Fridays makes friends with customers through marketing innovation

NEW YORK – An executive from TGI Fridays at the 2015 Integrated Marketing Week detailed how focusing on customer relationships is at the forefront of its business plan and that the key to the success of this strategy is unique and innovative marketing techniques.

The restaurant chain had a series of success in sales after recent marketing efforts employed engaging-usage of mobile and social media. TGI Fridays believes that the best way to drive sales is by becoming friends with its customers, and it has the sales results to back it up.

“People that come into Fridays they’re our guests and we want to turn them into stripes members, and when we turn them into members we want to then turn them into our best friends,” said Rob Henderson, customer relationship marketing and loyalty manager at TGI Fridays. “We like to know each other, get comfortable with you. You should know your bartenders name, your waitress’s name.


“They should know your favorite drink and how you like to take your steak,” he said. “That is the idea behind making members into best friends.


“The reason we do that is because members, our best friends, visit more often, about 230 percent more often. They also spend a little bit more with us, about 130 percent, which equals $550 a year.”

The Integrated Marketing Week was organized by the Direct Marketing Association.

Rewarding loyal customers
TGI Friday’s rewards program, Give me More Stripes turns customers into friends, which the brand highly values. The program offers various sales and marketing efforts through the mobile and social channels, and even aggregates a social feed on its site.

The executive detailed that these customers that are apart of the program statistically spend more and drive higher sales for the chain. For example, these members visit more by 238 percent and spend more by 130 percent.

Customers apart of the stripes program at Fridays also bring more guests by 30 percent. The program is clearly worth it to get involved as it has a redemption rate of 73 percent.

“Members want to feel special so we treat them special,” Mr. Henderson said. “We give them menu previews, we call them sneak peaks.

“We give them VIP events, complimentary treats and also jump-the-line passes just incase there are a few people ahead of you that and you need to get out,” he said.

Its recent marketing efforts coincided with this ideal, particularly with its recent Fantasy Cocktail Party campaign. The restaurant chain invited consumers to enter a contest that took a unique spin on the traditional conversation starter topic of who you would invite to a party alive or dead.

Available through mobile users could enter which their ideal party guests, living or dead and a cocktail to coincide, in an attempt to drive skinny girl sales in restaurants. The campaign was highly successful with other 10,000 fantasy parties created and more importantly, a substantial increase in skinny girl sales.

The campaign also reached 1MM social media impressions and received 9,000 social actions.

Customer feedback
Fridays focuses on guest feedback through all channels, especially social media, transactional data, rewards members information to create the best plan and marketing tactic in order to drive sales. An example of integrating customer feedback into a marketing promotion is its recent campaign in which consumers could vote on their favorite appetizers to be added to the menu.

The restaurant created appetizer items available for a limited time, encouraging customers to vote on their favorite, three of which would be included on the menu in the future. A YouTube page was also created featuring videos with characters based on the apps, to include a storytelling aspect to draw in more participants.

“One of the main things that we noticed about our members it that they are a lot more social than most people,” Mr. Henderson said. “They are usually the first adopters of technology, in this case the mobile app.

“Most of the folks on our mobile app are stripes members,” he said. “The email open rate is about 50 percent higher than others and the response rate on that is about 61 percent.

“We’re pulling social data from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. so we can identify brand advocates, assign some brand influence scores and also just spread the word of mouth of Fridays. We’re also using it to drive awareness of new products.”

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily