Today’s episode features a brand that has been at the TOP of our wish list to bring on the show over the past few years.
McDonald’s is, of course, the world’s leading global foodservice retailer, with over 40,000 locations in over 100 countries!
Just recently, the business was listed in second place in the *World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2023*, and they now operate loyalty programs in over 50 markets, with over 50 million members active!
Joining me today to share this incredible story is Bess Cades Director, Customer Engagement Strategy and Lifetime Value for McDonald’s.
Listen to learn the insights behind the extraordinary growth for McDonald’s Rewards around the world, a program that in time, could become one of the world’s largest loyalty programs.
Please enjoy this masterclass in loyalty marketing from one of the world’s greatest brands.
Paula: Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty, an Industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m your host, Paula Thomas, and if you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas from loyalty specialists around the world.
Hello and welcome to today’s episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. I’m delighted to welcome you to my conversation. With a brand that has been the top of our wishlist to bring on the show for the last few years. McDonald’s is of course, the world’s leading global food service retailer with over 40,000 locations in over a hundred countries.
Just recently, McDonald’s was listed in second place of the world’s most innovative companies just behind open ai. According to its latest annual report, McDonald’s now operates loyalty programs in over 50 markets with over 50 million members active in just the last 90 days. Joining me today to share this incredible story is best Cades, director of Customer Engagement Strategy and lifetime value for McDonald’s.
And I want to thank our friends in Epsilon and the Publicis Groupe for giving us this introduction to Bess. Previously, Bess was director of global membership for Nike, and she also spent some of her career working with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. From what I learned from Bess and the rate of growth from McDonald’s around the world, it seems to me that in time McDonald’s could become one of the world’s largest loyalty programs.
So pleased to enjoy this masterclass in loyalty marketing from one of the world’s greatest brands.
So Bess Cades, welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty. Thanks,
Bess: I’m so excited to be here.
Paula: You have been doing some extraordinary work best over the last number of years, and no doubt throughout your whole career. So we’re here to tell a very exciting story about what you’ve been doing in your loyalty role, with McDonald’s.
But first and foremost, before we get into all of that, as you know, we love to talk about our guests favorite loyalty programs. So in your kind of personal or professional life, I guess you’re probably noticing and paying a huge amount of attention to all these different loyalty programs in the United States.
So first question, of course. What is your personal favorite loyalty program?
Bess: Oh, thanks for, For asking the question. so I, this is maybe not my favorite one, but this is the one that I’ve been kind of following really closely cause I think it’s the most interesting around me, is there is a local, like higher class convenience store that started in Chicago and now has about 25 stores in about five different cities.
It’s a really cool store because it has a, not only is it a convenience store, but it also has a wine bar, a coffee bar, and it. Delivers a lot. So it kind of competes with DoorDash as well. and the thing I really love about their loyalty program is, it’s really interesting because it has two tiers.
There’s the free tier, which you. But which is just basically their member tier, which you join by making one online order. and then once you spend a hundred dollars a month, you reach their member plus status. So at the free membership tier, the benefits are like getting a free cafe drink each month or an early look at new products or no corkage fee if you, drink in their wine bar.
but the. Member plus tier is where you, if you spend a hundred dollars a month, you get this member plus tier for that month and the next month where you can unlock special pricing for that month. Mm-hmm. and the month after. So it’s $1 coffee and tea, $3 drinks, or, you know, cheaper house wines. and the reason I really love this, I realize I actually forgot to say the name of the, place.
It’s called Foxtrot. Okay. The reason I really love this is a couple of things. One is I like how it really connects the online and offline experience to this. So, you know, within the store there’s, you know, members only aisles, but then there’s also, you know, early and exclusive access onto the online products.
I like loyalty programs that feel like they get better the more that you use them. So the more you use this product, you continue to get access to their special pricing, and kind of that free insider status. Yeah. and the other thing I really like is that, It’s one of those programs that I feel like really hones in on the activities that it wants customers to have to do and drives those activities through their loyalty programs.
So some of the things that I would think drive higher lifetime value for their customers are things like, Ordering delivery or you know, drinking in their cafe bar or making those online orders. And so those are the things that it nudges with their benefits, which I think is a really interesting model.
Paula: You know, you’ve used one of my favorite words, Bess, and I don’t even like, I’ve never heard of Foxtrot, but that word nudge. I think it’s actually a very. A very effective word in the whole world of loyalty because it’s exactly that. Like I think of our formal definition of like driving profitable behavior change.
But actually when I think about it, like just on a personal level, sometimes I do just need that nudge. So it might be something that kind of educates me or. Inspires me or like you just said, like I just feel like I’ve got like the, the upper edge. So Foxtrot sounds amazing. So really pleased to hear that I haven’t been in Chicago in a long time.
So really looking forward to please God, getting there, sometime soon and, and catching up with you guys. So you do have an incredible career best. To get you to this role in McDonald’s, which I know is constantly evolving and there’s a huge amount of wonderful change, and I’ve always admired McDonald’s, actually.
It’s one of those brands that, in fact, it’s just, it’s everything. So whether it’s the brand or its level of innovation or the attention to all the different stakeholders, there’s just a lot going on there. So tell us about your career to date and how you ended up in this particular role at this particular time.
Bess: Sure. when I left grad school, I knew I wanted to go somewhere fun and complicated and exciting and sexy to me. and I was really interested in my skillset at the time was working in finance and so I started out after grad school working in a. financial in a, in a role in a financial rotation program at United Airlines, a place that I never, I thought that I would never really stop growing.
I spent about six years at United and I loved United. I’m still very loyal to United. It’s the only airline I fly. Oh. and in my second to last role there, I was doing finance for loyalty. Mm-hmm. throughout that process, I discovered I liked loyalty better than I liked finance. And so when they moved me to a role that was more finance and farther away from the customer and less loyalty, I took the opportunity.
To make a leap out of the finance world, and into more marketing and took an opportunity to do work on membership at Nike. wow. Working at Nike was an amazing education for me. I definitely walked out of Nike with a completely different skillset than I started with Uhhuh. I was there for about a year and a half working on their membership program and thinking through how do they run membership a little bit more like a business.
So still run, still working on. My, finance skills there, but now in kind of the marketing world, once I was there for about a year and a half, my role had kind of run its course at that point and I was looking to move to a different role. and McDonald’s kind of reached out to me and said they were building a loyalty program and did I want to, Did I wanna help build it?
And the idea of building a loyalty program from scratch was really, really exciting. I love the idea of building things from scratch like that. So, when I joined McDonald’s in the role of, you know, director of Global Loyalty, mm, I. There were about 12 markets that already had loyalty in them. They were all relatively small markets.
Mm-hmm. And the goal was to use those small markets as test cases. Mm. And then think through how do we then expand throughout the world? And so in my time in that role, we. Basically expanded to about 50 markets, which was really, really exciting. Wow. and really grew a program from, from not having one at all, which was really fun.
Paula: Honestly, I think you have the dream row Bess and certainly have done extraordinary work because as I said, McDonald’s is such an incredible brand and so many other, you know, restaurants and retailers have had loyalty programs for so many years. And I think, you know, when I started thinking and actually writing about McDonald’s and loyalty, it was very much like wondering if the United States would ever really go all in.
Would the US market, you know, as presumably your biggest market. I know you’ve got, plenty of big, big markets all over the world, but you know, I was always wondering, would you guys ever really go for it in the US because I knew it was happening in different markets around the world. So why do you think McDonald’s ultimately made this decision to go global?
Because from, as you said, 12 markets initially 50 markets. Now, I think it’s two years old in the United States, if I’m not mistaken. You launched in mid 2021? Yeah. Fantastic. So yeah, let’s put on there. Yeah. So tell us about the thinking internally, because one of the things I always think is super interesting about you guys is it is a franchise owned business.
So in effect, there’s probably tens of thousands of decision makers about something as strategic as launching a loyalty program. So I’d love to get an understanding of how did you decide that this was absolutely the best strategy for McDonald’s in all
Bess: markets? Sure. So a couple of things on that. One is, I mean, I think with many loyalty programs you have to, you know, start with the customer.
And customers were begging us for it. So, okay. That was starting there. It was kind of like less of a, you know, would we, but more probably when, okay. second of all, you know, when you think of any loyalty programs, there are probably many reasons why people do it, but for us, the thought process was, there are three things.
One is, you know, in the short term, we do know that customers are. you know, really leaning towards digital experiences and we know that when customers use digital in our restaurants and they, you know, order and pay for themselves mm-hmm. Like that actually is a better experience. And we have data that they’re happier and more satisfied when they do.
And so we do wanna nudge them onto those digital properties. Yeah. But in the longer term, One is that we didn’t at McDonald’s have the ability to connect people’s transactions. So, you know, we had no idea that the person who, you know, bought McNuggets at work one day was someone, the same person who, you know, bought a happy meal for their family.
The next day, or that the person who did coffee on the go one day is the same person who ordered, you know, late night snacks the next. So we really needed the ability in order to connect those transactions mm-hmm. In order to, you know, really, you know, personalize and give people more relevant experiences.
Mm-hmm. And use that data. Mm-hmm. And then we also wanted the ability to, you know, surprise or delight our customers in brand right ways. And if we don’t have the information, we can’t really do that in those brand right ways. We don’t have the permission to do so. And so that was kind of the reasoning behind why we did it.
Mm. But one of the things I really love about McDonald’s is kind of the owner-operator construct. So Yeah, in other places that I’ve been. A lot of the work is around like, what do you have to believe in order to make this work? But at McDonald’s you can’t really rest on what you have to believe. You actually have to have a really good business case and prove it to these like owner operators who are running their businesses.
Yeah, and so part of the reason we actually took a while is we needed to run those, you know, 12 market test cases and a couple others. To actually prove mm-hmm. That this was something that works and have real data and real evidence as opposed to saying, Hey, this may work in theory, or it’s worked for others.
We actually had to prove that it would work at McDonald’s. Wow.
Paula: Yeah. I can imagine the business casing. It’s probably the most challenging when I was building loyalty programs. Best I can honestly tell you I always left the, you know, the modeling to somebody else. And the fact that you had 12 markets up and running again, it sounds like they were smaller markets, safer places.
Again, I guess coming from Ireland, I always, noticed that, a lot of global concepts would be trialed in our, in our country just because it was easier. mm-hmm. So to have all of that data and prove the business model, what reaction did you get then from these owner operators when you said, look, It’s working.
We love it and our customers are asking for it. Like, were they convinced? Were they, were they excited? What kind of reaction did you get?
Bess: So this was something that people were really, really excited about. Mm-hmm. Like it took, The business case, I don’t believe was something that they were questioning.
Once we had the real facts. I think the bigger concern is how does this work in our restaurant? So McDonald’s is, you know, operations business and if it doesn’t work in the restaurants, it doesn’t work. So even if we have things where, you know, the business case works, the business case makes sense, really trying to think through how does this impact our restaurants?
How does this impact our drive through times? How does this impact our crew? Was really one of the bigger concerns and working through what that. Whole go to market plan was in order to make it work in the restaurants, was one of the biggest hurdles.
Paula: Wow. That’s super interesting because we always talk on this show about, you know, harnessing the power of the frontline staff, which I know you guys are doing super well, but I’ve never really thought about the fact that actually loyalty could cause.
A lot of problems, a lot of delays, a lot of operational issues, and in a business that prides itself on efficiency, I can just imagine that that probably even preceded the commercial concerns. Is that fair to say? Yes. Yes. Wow. Oh my goodness. I
Bess: mean, Yeah, we are, we are definitely always trying to sell more hamburgers and we are definitely always trying to, you know, make sure that our owner wrappers are profitable, et cetera.
But the operations concerns were extremely high. Okay.
Paula: So given that you had the 12 markets, you had the data, how easy was it to develop a, a value proposition for, for American customers? Because I know that’s where you’re physically based, even though the role has been global. But tell us about developing the value proposition and making something that, of course, addressed the, the digital experience that you talked about, because we do all love a seamless experience, of course, but in terms of like deciding, you know, what’s the earn gonna look like, what’s the burn gonna look like?
Talk us a bit through that particular journey.
Bess: Sure. So, my position was in with is in global. And so the way that we usually tried to describe it was that, you know, in global our job is to build the sandbox, but it’s not exactly our job to plan it. And then the markets plan the sandbox, but it’s not their job to build it.
So thinking through the value proposition for the, you know, customers in the United States or any other countries was really the job of the people who worked in the markets. Okay. and so we always thought about it as kind of, how do we think about it as. As freedom within a framework. And so from a global place, we gave, you know, guidelines of, you know, you have to have a rewards menu as opposed to being cash back, or it has to be easy and simple and transparent.
Or you have to have your points expire or you have to, you know, make it a digital first program. Hmm. And we gave the guidelines of what was required for the program, but then within the program, each individual market actually had the freedom to do the. Things that made sense for their customers. Mm.
Because they know their customers best. So they are the ones who actually went out and did all the research, whether it was in United States, whether it was Germany, whether it was, you know, yeah. Lavia, et cetera. Like they all went through and did their own work. And cus on customer research on. What does the competition look like?
Mm. What makes sense operationally for our restaurants? What are the things we can put on our menu? What are the things we can’t put on our menu? What is the, value exchange look like? All of that honestly was done by the individual markets cuz they know that their customers
Paula: best. I love that. It sounds like that’s actually, an overriding principle.
So obviously loyalty, implemented that, but would it be fair to say that McDonald’s always has that.
Bess: I would say that in general, especially when you’re working from a, you know, single tech stack and a, you know, single overarching brand, yes, it is very true that there are things that we try to do that, that say you have to have these guidelines or you have to be within this Yeah.
Place because we don’t want any uniforms. Okay. Our goal is to, you know, not be building things multiple times or for multiple different exceptions. Mm-hmm. But as long as you’re generally within the guidelines and within our brand standards, we really do believe that in many cases, I don’t wanna say at all, that the markets, really need the ability to be creative and do the things that work that make sense for them.
Because what makes sense in Australia isn’t gonna make sense in the United States. So, you know, one example of that is an Australia is extremely coffee first market. Their coffee is. Premium, very high class, et cetera. And if we said to them like, well this is what has to be on your reward menu in the US and you have to have this coffee first program, that’s just not the same place that coffee is.
Yeah. In the US as it is in Australia. And so it just doesn’t make sense. And you have to do the thing that makes sense for your customers in your market. So, Bess,
Paula: it, what it sounds to me like is, That McDonald’s has this very clear understanding, I suppose, and I guess respect is the right word, because so many global brands I do think, try and have like a single strategy and they say, look, consumers are pretty much, you know, we have the same needs.
And yes, of course the, the menu pieces, of course a core piece of differentiation, but I love that term. You used freedom within a framework and, and it’s, it’s definitely a respect that I’m feeling where. Different markets are going to have different things that they wanna do, both from a consumer perspective, but I guess also from the perspective of the buy-in of your own McDonald’s owners, operators, and everybody there.
So tell us a bit more about freedom within a framework, even outside of loyalty. Is that something that applies to how McDonald’s operates anyway?
Bess: Yeah, I would say, you know, I, I don’t wanna say that this is the way it works for, you know, every major campaign or rollout. There are definite things that, require more freedom or more framework, but for many cases there, there are kind of two reasons for that.
One is, you know, we do have a global brand and global brand standards, so we do wanna make sure that, you know, for that framework piece that like things are lining up to that. But the second is that we have global tech stacks, and so our goal is to have no unicorns and we can’t be building things multiple times.
And so while we do know that it is required that we have some framework around it to make sure that they’re following the, they’re following the brand standards as well as that they are, not creating complications for our technology. That freedom piece is really important because, you know, McDonald’s prides.
Self on really being relevant to the customer. You know, we say we wanna be a cultural icon and we can’t do that if we aren’t letting our marketers do the best things that they know for their customers. Yeah. So markets definitely have a lot of differences. There are a lot of similarities, but yeah, you know what resonates in one market and what.
The competition is like in one market, is gonna be very, very different than what it’s like in a different market. Yeah. And so if we tried to make it too, similar, it would just resonate for no one, I think.
Paula: And I think customers would be also, I guess just disappointed. You know, because again, it’s one thing to have it in the menu, but if you don’t reflect that in the marketing as well, of course it’s just not gonna work.
And, and you used a word, which I love actually, and I’m not very much again on the, on the techie side of loyalty, but I can understand a unicorn, being something that’s, Know, literally a stand alone, unique piece of maybe architecture or a platform that nobody else has heard of. You know, it’s seen once in a blue moon messes everything up on a global scale.
So I can understand, and actually I’m just laughing. I’m thinking of people listening to this show and kind of going, okay, yeah, no unicorns. Let’s make sure to Yeah. Totally nail that one. Yeah. The other
Bess: thing to note on that too though is, you know, one of our cultural norms is to, you know, kind of steal from other markets.
And so we spent a lot of time at Global trying to think through how do we bring together the best loyalty minds around the world and have them share what’s worked and what’s not, so that yeah, you know, if something’s working in one market, then it can, the other loyalty markets can take that and say, yeah, yeah, actually maybe we can make this, maybe make a little adjustment.
Or even just, you know, cut and paste it into ours. Love
Paula: it. Love it. And you mentioned, the convenience store earlier as well, Bess, and there’s actually terminology in that industry. I did a lot of content and a lot of writing about convenience, store loyalty. And we had this term which was exactly copy with pride.
And it was exactly what you’ve talked about. And I, and I remember in my own kind of corporate career, which is a long time ago now as well, but the idea that there are brilliant minds in different markets that have exactly the same problems, and actually probably nobody else in that country understands their particular challenge, but somebody else in the same role, obviously in a different country has.
Probably the right solution. So I love that idea that you are listening very carefully and you’ll be amused as well. I was interviewing somebody just a couple of days ago, down in Australia, and I believe the program there is called My Macs, which I thought was brilliant. My Macs, yeah, yeah, yeah. So again, like coming from like.
So many kind of brand guidelines, but something that is instantly recognizable that I can totally see Australian consumers going totally perfect. Whereas you could’ve tried that here, for example, in the uae, it would absolutely not resonate. So down to the, the level of flexibility and, and again, use your term one more time, freedom within a framework, they can obviously change and adapt exactly how the program operates.
And I’d love to get any examples actually best because I think you talked through, you know, whether it is the US even very different to Canada. and again, I’m sure Europe, Australia. Can you give us any sense of what, what did appeal to consumers that maybe surprised you in terms of what they needed from a loyalty program and how it might have been customized in one country versus another?
Bess: So specifically around the reward menu is different in every country. So some of the things that are very different is, for example, you know, the United States has a little more of a breakfast first menu cuz breakfast is a big deal in the United States. Whereas Australia, for example, has a coffee first menu because coffee is a big deal there.
Yeah. some of the other markets have thought a little differently. On how they, how often they change up their reward menu. So for example, you know, in Germany they’re very often putting in like, you know, this month only, here are some, a special thing that you can have. Or this season only, there’s a special thing that you can have on the reward menu where other markets feel fairly strongly that it’s fairly static.
So, Other markets have put on, non-food items on their reward menu. So for example, I know that in Portugal they’ve done some partnerships that you can exchange points for as well. As, you know, Germany has done Happy meal toys, as well as Coke glasses, which has been pretty well, pretty well received.
and one of my favorite ones is in the UK you can actually donate for charity. And so you can exchange your points for, a donation to a, To a, food
Paula: charity there, which is great. Oh, gorgeous. You know, and that’s when I think, again, people listening to this show best they, they would love to hear that because it’s very often a case that, you know, maybe in customer research we hear that there is, you know, an expectation perhaps, or an interest in having a charity option.
And sometimes then the practical implementation, maybe customers end up going, well, actually no, I want the free hamburger and I’ll give to charity the next. Time. So the fact that the UK is, is feeling that demand and obviously seeing it is, is absolutely a credit to them and no doubt will continue to grow.
What about discounting this as well? I’m sorry. I
Bess: was gonna say to that point also like part of the, this whole steal with pride that you just mentioned. So now that the UK has done that and many other markets are saying, how did you do that? Does that work? How did, how did you market it? And getting all that information from them.
So it’s something that we likely feel like can ex. Banned throughout the world because we have that as a test case, which is really neat. And they’re often going to our UK friends and saying, yeah, hey, what did you do? And how do we get that best advice from you on that. the other piece I’d note is, We also should be aware that there are different laws in different countries around, you know, discounting certain types of foods or tax laws around free things there.
So, that has also led some of the changes and challenges that we’ve seen in different
Paula: markets as well. Amazing. I can just imagine the global conferences you guys have best, and I’m guessing it, it’s gone through ups and downs. I know for example, your investor presentations, are generally online at the moment and I think certainly for all of us, there’s been fewer kind of.
Conferences. But I do know, again, back in Ireland when I did a little bit of work talking with the McDonald’s team, they loved to get together and as you said, have amazing conversations and share ideas about what was working for them. So the charity idea is amazing, and I wanted to ask about discounts because I do think, you know, certainly let’s say more mature markets, I think in the US.
There is an expectation very often that there are coupons and, and offers, quite a lot and a lot of change. So has that been your experience?
Bess: Yeah, it’s a really good question. and that’s something that we’re trying to manage now. You know, part of the strategy around loyalty initially was to say how do we use loyalty, in place of some of the margin to creative offers and move more towards, you know, a margin, a creative program.
Mm-hmm. I don’t think we’ll ever be in a world where we, move away from offers. Totally. Because, Customers really expect it, especially in the United States like that is something that customers absolutely say they want and they like the combination of it. So the question is how do we get the balance right?
I would say that different markets are very different. So, you know, if you look in your wallet right now in the US you’re likely going to have, you know, 6, 7, 8, 9 offers where in. Australia, you may only have one or two in the UK you might have, you know, zero or one. So every market’s a little bit different there.
And every market’s gonna be coming from a different place and are gonna have to think through what that balance looks like. Yeah. I know that is something, and like an overarching conversation that is currently happening in probably every market of. What is, how do we combine all of the value levers we have Yeah.
in a way that makes sense and is personalized and relevant for the customer and driving the right behaviors. Yeah. it’s gonna be a constant thing that we are trying to learn on what that looks like. and we are committed to figuring out how it, how to get it right. Yeah. Yeah. But I know that the data that we have and that we’re collecting is gonna really help us to think through, yeah, what are people using?
How much do we invest in a person and how do we make sure that we’re not paying. more to a customer than, than is the thing that will drive them to do the behavior
Paula: that we want. Absolutely, absolutely. And actually that is a great point Bess. You know, in terms of KPIs, there are so many different ways, and I know you won’t be able to give us any specifics here, but in terms of the general behaviors, would you say it’s, it’s, it’s some things like frequency baskets, Size advocacy, like there’s so many different things that we love our customers to do.
What would you say is, is core for McDonald’s, let’s say in in any market, maybe in the US given that it’s, it’s, it’s your
Bess: biggest. Yeah. I mean, I think our KPIs are probably. Hopefully pretty similar to other loyalty programs or other, you know, businesses is we’re, you know, looking to generate, you know, long-term customer relationships.
So we look very closely on frequency and retention. Mm. And thinking through, you know, average check size of someone who is in loyalty versus not in loyalty. Yeah. We look to the percentage of customers who are using the program and 90 day actives. Yes. we are working to institute, how do we. drive ideas and strategies around customer lifetime value in our business.
Mm. and make sure that we’re really driving and investing for the long term as opposed to just getting guest counts in the restaurant, you know, tomorrow. Wow. But I think that we’re, it’s, it’s a journey that we’re going on there too, but our focus is very much on the, you know, frequency and retention of the long term.
Paula: you know, actually I think that’s more insightful than, than you realize. you, you’re actually expressing it so, so casually and so beautiful that actually it’s a long-term intention. Like so many of us as loyalty professionals are under pressure, either from shareholders or, you know, just internal short term results to really just drive short term results.
So the fact that McDonald’s. Is taking that longer term view. I mean, clearly the fact that you’re investing in a loyalty program anyway is, is very indicative of that. But I guess you’ve earned the trust of the stock markets, I guess, as well over so many years. So it does sound like there is, an appreciation for the fact that building customer loyalty does take time and if you invest in it now, that that McDonald’s customer will, will just behave in better ways, but for longer periods of time.
Bess: Yeah, and we’ll look at, for example, you know, when we run a, you know, acquisition campaign or something like that, like what are the behaviors that the people who came into that campaign due over the next 60, 90 days? How do they engage in our programs? How did they, how does their spend differ from, possibly, beforehand, if we had data on them beforehand?
And so really trying to show that. It’s not just that one day that you’re getting someone in the restaurant, but really driving those long-term behaviors that we wanna
Paula: address. Amazing. So listen, we’re coming towards the end now, Bess. I really want to understand what are you most proud of? I think there are, So many things that we’ve touched on, you know, whether it is the framework, the freedom, the the piloting, all of these various, insights that you’ve shared with us.
You’ve had some extraordinary results, which I know have come through again in your investor presentations, but given that you’ve been working so closely on this for the past couple of years, what would you say you’re most proud of? Yeah, I would
Bess: say, you know, coming from a global role, And building that sandbox has been really, really fun and exciting.
But what I’m really proud of, I mean the numbers are great, but the numbers are great also because McDonald’s is big and that’s, and and we have a lot of fans. And we had a lot of fans beforehand. So what really excites me is watching the marketers actually. Put things to life in the markets and watching them collaborate and communicate and bring, you know, the entire organization along the fact that we were able to move this huge behemoth, glacial organization, I probably shouldn’t say that about McDonald’s, but this huge behemoth organization.
Yeah. To actually accomplish this has been really fun and I’m really proud of the fact that McDonald’s launched something. You know, we always talk about crawl, walk, run, and I think we launched a really good program, but people are really excited about how do we innovate it, how do we move it to the future?
And so the excitement that everyone in the markets has throughout the whole organization and that whole team has really been, I think, the proudest piece
Paula: of it. Amazing. Amazing. I sense the passion coming through best. You know, definitely you don’t come across as your, you know, you talked about your finance background and you know, that kind of mindset and mentality.
You’re much more in this creative space of loving customers, dare I say it, and, and making sure that they experience the best of everything that McDonald’s has to offer. So thank you for sharing all of these incredible insights. I really believe the journey’s only just beginning for McDonald’s and loyalty, 50 markets, as we said already, rolled out.
Plenty more to come. I know you are starting to focus on, lots of different areas, and I’ll ask you to speak to that in a minute as well, but just any parting words of advice best because again, a lot of people listening to this show are in global brands. They probably have to do a lot of justification of the investment in loyalty.
They probably have a lot of questions to ask and answer about things like technology. So what would your advice be to, to listeners of Let’s Talk Loyalty. What would you say they should be thinking about first and foremost as maybe principles for success?
Bess: Yeah. I think for us it was very much of how do we come together and co-create early with our cross-functional partners.
Okay. So, getting that buy-in early and having people come to the table, whether it is. Ops or marketing or, insights or technology or products or all of those people, having them co-create with you in the room early so that everybody feels like they have skin in the game has been really monumental.
The way that we did it, you know, was we had this cross-functional squad both in the markets, And in global of, you know, meeting every single day and really co-creating together has been really key. Yeah. It’s not really about bringing people along, it’s about co-creation. Yeah. and not really just sort of taking your one idea and dragging it through, but really having everybody create it together.
So that has been key. The other thing is, It’s really focusing a lot of time and energy on training the frontline workers. So yeah, we put together, you know, simulators for our crew so that they could learn, earn points, get excited about the program. Mm. If your crew is an evangelist of the program, and if it’s not gonna work in the restaurant, it’s really just not gonna work.
So that focus on operations and focus on the crew has always been really helpful as well.
Paula: I love it. I love it. I, I always pick up in words, you can see me writing them down best so evangelists. I think certainly for internal people, I mean, what more could we all hope for us to evangelize and mobilize a team at the scale that McDonald’s is doing?
And I also liked your word squad, like the, this idea of having like a hit team of excited, passionate marketers who are really gonna go and build something that they know will bring joy to, to customers. And I remember seeing a statistic, actually again, just in preparation for today, McDonald’s is serving 60 million customers every single day.
So to create something that is meaningful for them is absolutely something that I can tell you are incredibly proud of and want to wish you huge. Congratulations. Further continued success. Tell us a bit about your future role. I know you’re starting to to focus more, in a slightly different way within the McDonald’s organization.
So tell us about the work you’re gonna be doing now. Sure.
Bess: in my time at McDonald’s, I was in a global loyalty role and previously at Nike I was also similarly in a global membership role. And one of the things that I’ve been really excited about doing that I felt was kind of missing from my toolkit and maybe some of these large matrix organizations was the opportunity to work in a market.
And so recently I’ve actually moved to a role in the S market, as opposed to being in global. Which will focus on, you know, overall customer engagement strategy and, really instituting how we think about, you know, using our data asset to drive customer lifetime value, which is really exciting for me to be able to, you know, be a little bit closer to our customer.
Yeah. and be the one who’s actually playing in the sandbox as opposed to building
Paula: it. I couldn’t have picked better parting words, best playing in the sandbox. What I really hope is that you’ll stay in touch with us and continue to share your story as you continue playing and, you know, continuing to drive value for customers.
So that’s all from our side. Have you any final thoughts, anything else you wanna say before we wrap up?
Bess: No, just thanks for inviting me. This was great.
Paula: Great. I had super fun. So, best Cades, director of Customer Engagement Strategy and Lifetime Value. Thank you so much. From Let’s Talk Loyalty. This show is sponsored by the Wise Marketeer, the world’s most popular source.
Of loyalty, marketing, news, insights, and research. The Wise Marketeer also offers loyalty marketing training through its Loyalty Academy, which has already certified over 245 executives in 27 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals. For more information, check out the wise marketeer.com and loyalty academy.org.
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