Following a challenging year of PR scandals and plummeting same-store sales, Papa John’s looks to end 2018 on an upswing with the announcement of a newly revamped rewards program.
Instead of earning points toward specific rewards, users will be able to convert their dollars spent into “Papa Dough,” which can be collected and used toward anything on the Papa John’s menu.
“I can’t think of anything more fun than a pizza currency,” Anne Fischer, senior vice president of customer experience at Papa John’s said. “Rather than allowing customers to only order select items with their points, we wanted to create as much flexibility as possible.”
The move is the latest part of the crucial Papa John’s revitalization efforts that began in earnest with September’s Voices of Papa John’s marketing campaign, which showcased team members and franchisees, and was a further attempt to separate the brand from disgraced former CEO John Schnatter.
Last month, during Papa John’s third-quarter earnings call, North American same-store sales fell 9.8 percent, but saw a 2 percent points improvement in September after the introduction of the Voices campaign. During the earnings call, Papa John’s president and CEO Steve Ritchie mentioned that the company was looking to improve customer experience and brand differentiation going forward.
“We see this as a major milestone in the new direction we’re taking the brand,” Fischer said. “It’s a very customer-centric, modern direction, and this loyalty program is about the customer and making it as rewarding as possible.”
The new iteration of the rewards program — its biggest makeover so far — is fairly straightforward. Members will get one point for every dollar spent at Papa John’s either on the mobile app, website, through the Papa John’s Alexa skill, or with orders placed on the phone or in person. Every 75 points translates to 10 dollars in “Papa Dough” which can be used much like a gift card or credit toward anything on the menu. Rewards program points will expire after one year.
“We spent a lot of time listening to what our members want,” Fischer said. “You can earn points five times faster in this program than in the old one.”
Members of the old rewards program have even more of an incentive to roll over to the new one: The conversion rate is five new points for every one old point.
Rewards program members will have access to specials that they can use in addition to their everyday Papa Dough balance, including free desserts, free sides, or a BOGO deal. To kick off the program, the brand is offering both new and existing members a free 10-inch cheesesticks order with any $12 purchase through the end of January.
The program is officially rolling out this week, but had been in beta testing since June and members have been invited to join the program since the summer.
Fischer said during the test period the company received positive feedback on the improved flexibility of the program, which is no longer limited to online purchases. However, she clarified that the ability to earn points through in-store purchases is currently only available in select markets and will be rolled out nationwide in the coming months.
“The big goal of this is extending our membership base and inviting more folks to join the loyalty program,” Fischer said.
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