Customers push back as restaurant chains are increasing the spending needed to gain free items on loyalty programs—penalizing their most loyal customers.
- For example…
- In October, Dunkin’ Donuts changed its loyalty program from customers spending $40 to get a free premium coffee to having to spend $90.
- Chipotle members could earn a free entree after gaining 1,250 points (around $125). It then jumped to 1,400 last year and was recently raised again to 1,625 ($162.50).
- Starbucks began changing tiers. What was once 50 stars will now be 100 stars, 150 stars is now 200 stars, and 200 stars will now be 300 stars.
Why it’s news
Due to inflation, many restaurant chains have been increasing prices and the number of points needed to gain free items on loyalty programs.
Customers report that the change in loyalty programs hurts their loyalty to the restaurants as they feel cheated.
High inflation rates have caused prices to rise considerably, and the next thing to be hit—loyalty programs.
Customer loyalty programs took off during the pandemic, giving customers incentives to order online, and the more frequently customers ordered, the more free items could be earned. Most programs had low price points to encourage customers to spend money there to earn more free food.
Customers are already frustrated with their favorite items increasing in price, but now the restaurants are adding higher amounts to the loyalty programs and hurting their most frequent customers.
The restaurants blame inflation for the loyalty increases as customers earn free items faster due to the price increases. Many restaurants say as prices increase, they are forced to increase loyalty programs, or money is lost.
Many customers argue that the changes hurt their loyalty to the restaurants because they feel cheated. Customers regularly buy from restaurants and want to enjoy the perks, but now are being forced to spend more money at inflated prices.
Among others, Dunkin’ Donuts and Chipotle are two companies that increased the spend to earn points—angering many customers as the coffee and burrito company increased their loyalty programs, reports The New York Times.
- Earning free Dunkin’ coffee: $40 ⬆️ $90.
- Getting free Chipotle entree: $125 ⬆️ $162.50
- Starbucks stars needed for reward: 50 stars ⬆️100 stars
- Taco Bell free points per earned point: 200 ⬆️ 250
- McDonald’s points required for purchase ⬆️ 12%
The Points Guy tracks travel-rewards and elite-status thresholds and say that the shrinkflation of reward programs could reach beyond coffee and fast food soon.