- McDonald's said on Wednesday that it added restaurants in New England to its U.S. loyalty program pilot several weeks ago, entering the next phase of the test before the program launches nationwide, CNBC reports. The chain started the trial in Arizona and Nevada in November, and about 900 of McDonald's 14,000 U.S. locations are part of the test as of Wednesday.
- MyMcDonald's Rewards participants can earn 100 points per every dollar spent, as well as the chance to score additional points through targeted promotions. Current participants can use cash and mobile order and pay to earn rewards, and diners will be able to pay with credit and debit cards for points when the program is available nationwide.
- The loyalty offering will allow McDonald's to personalize the diner experience. Loyalty members will be greeted by name as they pass through the drive-thru lane, and will receive personalized emails that include promotions tailored to their preferences after they collect their meals, Alycia Mason, McDonald's vice president of digital, media and customer relationship management, told CNBC.
McDonald's entry into the loyalty space will allow the chain to maximize its digital investments by honing consumer data, which will allow the company to tailor its menu offerings to be more in tune with its customers' demands. This data can also be used to improve the loyalty program itself over time.
The company announced in November that the loyalty program will offer personalized order suggestions and promotions at its kiosks, digital menu boards at the drive-thru and via its mobile app. This builds on the chain's existing digital customizations. Many McDonald's drive-thru menus often display specialized offerings that reflect time of day and what the customer is ordering in real time.
MyMcDonald's Reward's personalized suggestions will become more specific the more customers engage with the rewards program, executives said in November, which could enhance stickiness for regular customers and foster loyalty among infrequent diners. The program is divided into four tiers — 1,500, 3,000, 4,500 and 6,000 points — that can be redeemed across 16 menu items.
Though McDonald's is late to the loyalty game in the U.S., it's offering is differentiated because it also allows employees to earn points if they complete program-related training. Incentivizing workers to learn more about the digital platform could ensure a smoother rollout across stores. Alex Menendez, a Miami-based franchisee that is part of the operator committee overseeing the MyMcDonald's Rewards pilot, told CNBC that franchisees didn't prioritize training employees on digital initiatives in the past.
McDonald's entry into the loyalty space could drive rival QSRs to launch similar programs if they don't already offer them. There has already been an uptick in loyalty launches over the past year — Taco Bell rolled out a new loyalty program in July, Wendy's launched one the same month and White Castle debuted its first program in September. Twelve percent of QSR restaurants say they have added a loyalty program since March, according to the National Restaurant Association's 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry report.
This increase in loyalty programs makes sense, since a broad swath of diners are still engaging with brands mostly through digital channels as the pandemic stretches on. About one in three on- and off-premise diners say the existence of a loyalty and reward program would make them more likely to choose one restaurant over the other during the next few months, according to NRA's report.