Hooters Learns Guest Preferences Through Mobile App

 
This Hooters store in Sidell, Louisiana, was the first ground-up prototype of Hooters’ new contemporary design.
This Hooters store in Sidell, Louisiana, was the first ground-up prototype of Hooters’ new contemporary design. Hooters / Henry McDaniel / www.inner-g.com

Hooters will soon know the average age and menu preferences of customers in its core markets, and will use that data to customize promotions for them.

It’s a major benefit of the company’s new HootClub mobile app and customer loyalty program—which is on the ground in Atlanta and will roll out nationally in the coming months—and reflects a broad effort at Hooters to drive traffic, particularly as it unveils remodeled locations, and engage with guests more out of store.

HootClub is designed to make it easy for guests to earn rewards on their favorite food and drink items, learn about the latest events at Hooters, and register for sweepstakes to win prizes.

As guests do so, the Hooters team gains access to data to help adapt promotions, via technology from Zipscene. One point the data will reveal is the typical age of customers in our core markets.

“We can change the music in specific locations to better fit that demographic,” says Chris Duncan, chief information officer for Hooters of America. “If there are more Atlanta Falcon fans showing up to watch the game, for example, we can make sure to tailor promotions or messages to that group. We can give our guests what they are looking for without them having to ask for it.”

The new app and loyalty program is timed to coincide with the 30-year-old chain’s aggressive remodeling project for its locations. “It wouldn’t be good to drive traffic in to our restaurants and have the customer be disappointed,” Duncan says. “We are putting our best foot forward as we get ready to drive in traffic.”

The mobile app, which launched April 23, already has 4,000 members signed up without any advertising, except for in-store, point-of-purchase signs. “The program is only in 11 restaurants, and we are very encouraged by our customers’ response to it,” Duncan says.

While gathering information and sending promotional blasts is nothing new for Hooters—the brand has previously let guests fill out surveys and also sent mass email and text promotional offers—the new app and loyalty platform lets the brand collect info from customers “without having to bother them,” Duncan says. HootClub gives the marketing team three ways to connect with guests, through either email, texting, or the app, based on how the customer indicates he or she wants to be contacted.

The new program also ensures that the right message is sent to the right demographic at the right time. Messaging through the app—which is on the agenda for rollout in the third quarter—is also new to the brand.

Tracking return on investment of mass emails is inaccurate, Duncan says. With the app, however, “if we send out an incentive to come in on Sunday and get a great meal while you watch the Falcons, we can see what kind of return we get.”

Furthermore, emails only go out to fans who’ve shown an interest in that specific promotion. “So, we can see [based on prior purchases] that this customer really likes wings, and message them through the app or email them that we have a promotion on wings,” Duncan explains.

To track and activate their rewards, guests enter a code from their Hooters receipts into the HootClub app from a mobile device or web browser. The program keeps a record of each purchase, and, similar to all loyalty programs, the more often guests visit Hooters, the more points they earn. In addition to tracking loyalty points, the app includes a Hooters locator, a view of the menu, and links to social channels.

Zipscene’s technology, which also tracks guest activity, stores and analyzes the data on the company’s data management platform. Zipscene also developed the native mobile application for HootClub.

Additional technology from Sparkfly lets Hooters’ customers redeem offers at any location, regardless of which point-of-sale technology is used. The platform operates across multiple forms of media, so guests can access the loyalty program through mobile, digital, email, or print platforms. It also lets Hooters track redemptions as they happen.

Duncan says the company plans for HootClub to provide guests with a better product every time they come to the store.

By Joann Whitcher