In most parts of the United States, the only reward for ordering from McDonald’s is a toy from the latest Pixar movie, and even that is only if you order Happy Meal. That is about to change, however — McDonald’s announced Tuesday (June 22) that its loyalty program will be available all across the country starting July 8. The company started testing its MyMcDonald’s loyalty program in late 2020, launching a pilot in Oakbrook, Illinois and another in Phoenix, Arizona earlier this year, slowly expanding to more cities.
“MyMcDonald’s Rewards is just the latest way we are making it easier to enjoy your favorite McDonald’s food as part of our new digital experience growth engine, ‘MyMcDonald’s,’ which aims to provide a fast, seamless McDonald’s experience,” the company announced. “No matter how or where you connect with us — through kiosks in the restaurants, digital menu boards at the Drive Thru, McDelivery or via our mobile app — MyMcDonald’s will be there to provide seamless, personalized service that’s more customized and rewarding.”
This focus on promoting digital ordering channels goes along with the company’s Accelerating the Arches growth strategy announced in November 2020, in which the company announced that it would double down on “the 3Ds” (digital, delivery and drive-thru), leveraging the turn toward digital ordering during the height of the pandemic to drive sales into the future.
For all this focus on digital, McDonald’s is something of a latecomer to the rewards game, with many of its competitors already building loyalty and driving spending with their own programs. Still, McDonald’s U.S. President Joe Erlinger told analysts on a call in April, the company’s app already has more than 20 million active users, even without nationwide loyalty rewards.
Different restaurants, of course, approach loyalty rewards differently. For instance, Chipotle announced Tuesday (June 22) that customers can allocate rewards, if they choose, to supporting one of the restaurant’s several nonprofit partners and that people who play the restaurant chain’s loyalty rewards-themed video game can win one of a handful of prizes, including 2021 Tesla Model 3.
The McDonald’s program follows the fairly typical model — a flat number of points per dollar spent at the restaurant, redeemable for a range of select menu items. In this case, spending $15 saves up enough for a vanilla cone or a cheeseburger, while $60 would be enough for a Happy Meal or a Big Mac.
The announcement’s mention of “personalized service” that is “customized” to the user suggests that McDonald’s loyalty program’s messaging will be shaped by user data, tailored to fit each customer — one of the most important trends in loyalty rewards today.
“Guest expectations have changed forever. Exceeding them requires not only improving the loyalty offering, but also using program data to improve the guest experience,” Michelle Tempesta, head of product for Paytronix, reflected in the January edition of the PYMNTS and Paytronix Order to Eat Tracker. “Guests expect spot-on recommendations, relevant offers and for brands to extend the hospitality once provided at a single-unit establishment to every location in a chain through personalized digital engagement at scale.”