Want to feel special? Stores and restaurants with paid memberships are betting on it

March 18, 2024

Paid loyalty programs are all the rage in the restaurant and retail worlds. Looking for reliable sales in an unpredictable spending environment, more companies have extended their points-based loyalty tiers to making their most dependable customers feel valued for an up-front fee. “If they’re seated earlier than other people or there’s a special line for them at the registers, then they feel they’re special,” Folkes said. A 2020 McKinsey survey found members of paid loyalty programs were 60% more likely to spend more on the brand after opting in, while free loyalty programs only increased that likelihood by 30%. But after finding shoppers not returning as frequently as hoped, it launched a loyalty program in January that costs $60 a year.