How Jimmy John's Loyalty Program Is Aiming For Greater Personalization

Return business is the holy grail for restaurants, according to foodservice consulting firm, Performance Foodservice. Loyalty programs are an important tool that restaurants can use to motivate customers to keep coming back. Performance Foodservice points to data suggesting consumers spend more at a restaurant when on the brink of earning a reward, and even more in the time between their first and 10th rewards. Moreover, 86% of U.S. and Canadian consumers are game to join a restaurant loyalty program, Restaurant Dive discovered in a 2022 survey of 2,600 U.S. and Canadian diners. 

Although thus far, only 36% of Americans have done so, that doesn't mean they never will. And the sooner they do, the sooner restaurants will be able to leverage their customer data, and that can benefit both the restaurant and the customer. You see, restaurant loyalty programs don't simply motivate repeat business. They also produce a wealth of data, which can be analyzed in "increasingly sophisticated" ways to deliver valuable insights into what customers want, according to FSR Magazine – including how much of it they want, how often, and even what time of day their cravings may hit. 

No wonder various restaurant experts predicted 2023 will witness loyalty programs becoming increasingly personalized, per QSR Magazine. For many restaurants, that may include a gamification element, a press release by Research and Markets notes. And that's precisely the direction in which sandwich chain, Jimmy John's, is going in an attempt to better personalize the customer experience. 

Jimmy John's loyalty program enters the gamification space

Jimmy John's launched its Freaky Fast Rewards program in December 2019. Today the program boasts 12 million members, according to CMO, Darin Dugan (via FoodSided). Now the sandwich chain is aiming for greater personalization within the program via the element of gamification, Jimmy John's announced on January 13, 2023, via press release.

Specifically, it's now possible for Jimmy John's FFR program members to earn "Achievement Badges" for completing certain challenges within specified time frames. For example, the first of what the company promises will be many Achievement Badges is "The Gauntlet." To earn it, one must buy one of each of Jimmy John's 25 core menu sandwiches by March 15 (unconfirmable is whether the fast food chain's Atkins-friendly Unwiches will qualify, but since they're really just breadless sandwiches, it seems reasonable to assume they will). Those who earn The Gauntlet qualify to receive a Jimmy John's branded beanbag chair, the "Jimmy Chips Beanbag Chair." 

"Gamification is not necessarily the future of rewards programs, but it's something that we deem important for our rewards journey," said Nathan Louer, vice president of brand marketing and activation at Jimmy John's (via Nation's Restaurant News). And the company sees its use of gamification – vis a vis "personalized offers and challenges" as a way of getting to know its customers better, presumably by observing which, to what extent, and even what time of day individual customers seem to vibe with which various challenges (per the press release).