When it comes to building customer loyalty, mobile apps are the key to the lock

A new authoritative report has found that nearly half of diners engage with a customer loyalty program in at least one way in at least one type of restaurant, and adds that mobile apps seem to be the key to maximize this interest.

The PYMNTS and Paytronix Digital Divide Report: Minding The Loyalty Gap shed light on the impact of loyalty programs on customer engagement levels and analyzed how restaurants and food brands can use the programs to develop and retain their audience.

It revealed that almost half (48%) of restaurant customers participate in some way in a loyalty program in at least one type of restaurant. The survey showed that similar shares of consumers use loyalty programs at QSRs (42%) and table service restaurants (43%).

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of customers use loyalty programs at multiple restaurants they visit frequently. This goes up to 70% for quick service restaurants (QSR).

Half (50%) of table-service restaurant customers frequently interact with loyalty programs through a mobile app, rising to 60% of QSR customers. As a result, the report concluded that mobile technologies are critical to customer engagement, as half of customers interact with their favorite restaurants’ loyalty programs through restaurant mobile apps.

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Young adults, college graduates, and people earning more than $100,000 a year show the highest engagement rates with local restaurant loyalty programs. Consumers using loyalty programs are willing to spend more at local restaurants to get personalized discounts.

Fully a third (34%) say tangible improvements in the way they pick up and order food will have the biggest impact on their loyalty.

“Today’s consumers are convenience-driven and digitally savvy – and these key characteristics influence how and where they choose to dine,” the report concludes.

“Loyalty program usage is strong, but consumer interest in participating in such initiatives may be dampened by the ease of participation and smoothness of the overall ordering process.”

Casey J. Nelson