UPDATE: Sept. 2, 2021: Burger King's loyalty program, Royal Perks, is now available digitally nationwide, the company announced Thursday. More than 80% of Royal Perks members are likely to recommend the rewards program to others, according to Burger King.
"We've gone from testing Royal Perks digitally in three markets in Feb. to nationwide digital access, and are on track to have more than two thirds of our restaurants activated with loyalty capabilities in Sept.," said Ellie Doty, chief marketing officer of Burger King, North America, in the press release. "We're excited for members to unlock a more personalized BK experience and access to rewards they can’t get anywhere else, starting with a new Royal Perks deal later this month."
UPDATE: Feb. 9, 2021: During Burger King's first phase of testing its loyalty program, diners can also earn points when ordering for pick-up through its app and website. When the program is no longer in the pilot phase and deployed nationwide, customers can earn points through both digital channels and in restaurants, Burger King said.
- Burger King is the latest QSR to launch a loyalty program, and is testing its offering in Los Angeles, Long Island, Miami, New Jersey and New York City, according to a company release Tuesday.
- The chain's Royal Perks loyalty platform allows customers to earn 10 points for every $1 spent by ordering on the Burger King app or website, which can be redeemed for free items across Burger King's entire menu. Loyalty members will also receive daily offerings to upsize a drink, fries or hash browns for free and will be able to earn double points during their birthday month.
- Burger King loyalty members can also earn points for delivery through Burger King's self-delivery service. Currently, points will not be allocated when diners order through third-party delivery partners, Whitney Gretz, Burger King's VP of digital and loyalty, said. The offering could eventually be extended to aggregator orders, she said.
Earnings points on delivery orders was a top demand among diners when Burger King solicited guest feedback to develop its rewards program, Gretz said, adding that this is a point of differentiation when compared to rival QSRs' programs. McDonald's loyalty program test, for example, doesn't appear to offer rewards for delivery orders. The mega chain only offers delivery through third-party platforms, though the company said in November that it will soon allow diners to order delivery via McDonald's app in some markets — a service that is already available in some global segments.
The loyalty program strengthens Burger King's digital offerings and gives the chain access to diner data that can be collected from every purchase, Gretz said. This data could inform future tweaks to the program, which will be adjusted based on feedback during testing. Burger King began to develop the loyalty program prior to COVID-19's disruption, but the program's digital integration will help cater to the uptick in engagement with its off-premise channels the company has experienced since March 2020, Gretz said. The test period does not currently have a hard stop date or a firm date for a nationwide rollout.
Burger King has already invested heavily in digitizing its brand experience, recently sharing plans of how its new off-premise-focused restaurant prototype — which features enhanced double or triple drive-thrus and dedicated mobile order and curbside pickup zones — can capitalize on growing diner interest in digital and contactless restaurant engagement. Last fall, the chain also announced that it was revamping the drive-thru channel with personalized, predictive suggestions and contactless payment solutions that can integrate with loyalty offerings.
Its loyalty rewards could also challenge competitors. While Burger King loyalty members can earn free menu items across the whole menu, McDonald's test currently allows participants to redeem from a collection of 16 items, according to CNBC. Burger King could also eventually offer third-party, non-food rewards, Gretz said. "You can only eat so much food in a day," she said.
There's a good reason for the loyalty blitz in the QSR space, which has been marked most recently by McDonald's extension of its test into New England restaurants, White Castle's launch in September, and Wendy's and Taco Bell's rollouts last summer. About one in three diners say the presence of a loyalty program would make them more likely to choose one restaurant over another, according to the National Restaurant Association's 2021 State of the Industry report. Twelve percent of QSR operators have debuted loyalty programs since the start of the pandemic, the report finds.