How these chains inspired the ultimate act of customer loyalty

Would you get a restaurant brand tattoo? Shake Shack is hopping on the bitcoin bandwagon. And restaurants are giving the hard sell to St. Patrick’s Day, after a long pandemic pause.
Burger tattoo

Photograph: Shutterstock

Consumers express their brand loyalty in lots of different ways.

Maybe they cruise through the drive-thru multiple times a week. Maybe they hand over their data and sign up for the loyalty program. Maybe they follow their favorite restaurant chain on Twitter and Facebook and TikTok.

Or, MAYBE THEY GET THAT RESTAURANT’S LOGO FOREVER BRANDED INTO THEIR FLESH.

Coupon site DealA surveyed social media data, specifically Instagram hashtags, to come up with the brands, across all industries, that are the most tattooed on adoring fans.

By a giant order of magnitude, Disney topped the list. I mean, that’s understandable when your brand is literally cartoon characters.

Coca-Cola came out as the most popular food-and-drink tattoo.  

The most-popular restaurant chain tattoo, though?

That honor goes to McDonald’s, the world’s largest chain.

Starbucks, known for its highly loyal fan base that counts down to Pumpkin Spice Latte season each summer, was the only other restaurant brand to even merit a mention on the most-tattooed list.

Correlation does not equal causation, of course, but both chains have thriving loyalty programs right now.

 

Shake Shack rides the Bitcoin wave

Better-burger brand Shake Shack is testing a new promo that awards customers in Bitcoin.

Diners who pay via Cash App debit card, the mobile payment service owned by Block (formerly known as Square), can get 15% back in Bitcoin.

“We’re always working on innovative ways to help our fans get their ShakeShack, however and whenever they want it,” CMO Jay Livingston said in a statement. “Our Bitcoin rewards test on Cash App is an exciting way for us to learn about our guests and how they want to use cryptocurrency. As we think about the long-term roadmap for ShakeShack, we see opportunities to continue growing and developing these types of digital offerings to provide guests with a frictionless, more personalized experience.”

A number of chains have waded into cryptocurrency in recent months. Sports Bar chain Wings & Rings said earlier this year it would start accepting Bitcoin as payment from franchisees.

Late last year, Burger King handed out cryptocurrency to customers in its loyalty program, most of it worth very little, but Whopper-eaters received the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars.

 

St. Patrick’s Day roars back

I don’t know that I’ll ever forget St. Patrick’s Day 2020 in Chicago, seeing the lines of folks outside Irish bars and restaurants just as the governor was ordering the entire state to quarantine because of this very new virus called COVID-19.

Last year’s St. Patrick’s Day was more muted, with vaccines yet to be widespread.

This year, though? Restaurants have suffered through delta and through omicron; rates of COVID in many cities are hovering around 1%; mask and vaccine mandates have largely disappeared; and both customers and operators are ready to celebrate.

The St. Patrick’s Day promos are flooding in, from boneless wing deals from Hooters to LTOs like the green Mint Matcha Frappe at Peet’s Coffee to the Lucky Charms ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery.