Loyalty holdout Popeyes may have showed up late to the digital rewards party, but it brought wings. On Thursday (June 17), the company announced the launch of Popeyes Rewards, a loyalty program integrated with its desktop website and mobile app ordering channels that rewards purchases with points to be redeemed for menu items. In addition to flat per-dollar points awards, the program also offers bonus points for certain menu items and for completing “personalized challenges.”
“We have been humbled to see our fans express their loyalty for our brand time and time again,” Bruno Cardinali, Popeyes chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “Our goal has been to create a perfect loyalty program that matches and rewards their unparalleled enthusiasm.”
The chicken chain launched a pilot of its loyalty program months ago, the CEO of Popeyes parent company Restaurant Brands International (RBI) José Cil told analysts on a call in April. At the time, Cil said that the company is “excited to use this connection with our guest to drive incrementality through targeted offers and campaigns to improve our lower frequency, higher check relationship with our guests.” Now, the news release says, the program is available in “select U.S. cities.”
The news comes amid widespread reports of chicken shortages, especially wings, causing some restaurants to remove wings from the menu and others to raise prices on chicken. In fact, chicken prices hit an all-time high last month (May 2021), Bloomberg reported, as major restaurant chains go head to head in the chicken sandwich wars, the race to win consumers’ fried chicken sandwich loyalty.
While Popeyes, KFC and Chick-fil-A have been competing in this space for some time now, new contenders have been coming to the fore in the past year. McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and many others have announced new fried chicken sandwiches in an effort to get in on the action. Last year’s “State of the Plate” report from restaurant aggregator Grubhub noted a shocking 299 percent increase in demand for spicy chicken sandwiches. Plus, the impact of quarantine boosted this figure to a 353 percent increase, the report stated. Popeyes may be winning the war — retail analytics software company Placer.ai’s data show that Popeye’s monthly visits were up 19 percent in May compared to May 2019, while competitors’ traffic was down from pre-pandemic levels.
With the launch of the new rewards program, Popeyes has an opportunity both to incentivize chicken sandwich-seeking customers to choose its option and to drive spending overall. In the March edition of Delivering on Restaurant Rewards report, created in partnership with Paytronix, PYMNTS researchers found that 39 percent of restaurant customers are inclined to spend more when restaurants offer loyalty and rewards programs.
And that number goes up when you look at customers who are already using at least one loyalty program. Data from the most recent issue of the report, the June 2021 edition, finds that 57 percent of loyalty program users would spend more on food orders if the restaurant they were ordering from had a rewards program. Plus, loyalty program use is on the rise. Even between mid-September and late April, the report notes, the portion of consumers using loyalty apps grew 10 percent, growing from 43.0 percent of restaurant customers to 47.4 percent. Maybe with the launch of this rewards app, chicken sandwich fanatics will help get that number up to 50.