You might think Chipotle took the customer loyalty crown, since you likely know someone who eats there every day! But Panera Bread is the casual dining spot where customers are most loyal. Looking at a recent study, the financial site Motley Fool points out that all those promotional events that marketers do--like all you can eat at TGI Fridays--can really draw in the customers but they're also "margin killers." After all, what good is a customer if he costs as much to bring in the door as he spends inside? Plus they're always about to bolt for the next special, so what did you pay for?
Restaurants advertise to get customers in the door, but when they come back unprompted that's brand loyalty--the ultimate goal of all successful brands. Consumer research firm Brand Keys just published a giant Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, looking at 555 brands in 64 categories. It takes some time to go through, so you may want to head over to Panera and have some coffee and a fresh-baked pastry. In fact it's such an exhaustive study you'll need a few days, so you'll probably go back to Panera again tomorrow--that's what people do! A broad menu that satisfies people with various tastes--like the average family with kids--and a very relaxed atmosphere are leading factors in delivering the happy Panera experience people keep returning for. It's a little bit pricier than its competitors, but its positioning as a healthy choice covers the cost in customers' minds.
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