CINCINNATI — Most think of loyalty programs as an essential tool to learn about customers' behaviors, but they can also teach convenience store retailers more about the items they add to their offering.
U-Drive Plus, the customer loyalty program of United Dairy Farmers (UDF), is an important component of the company's marketing strategy — one that has helped UDF develop and promote products with impressive results, according to Denise Jenkins, UDF's vice president of marketing, insights and loyalty.
"We have been using our U-Drive Plus Rewards members to help with product development on our ice cream and fresh bakery items," Jenkins said. "This has provided invaluable feedback and, in some cases, we are hearing from them that they first knew about a new product when we asked them for feedback in the innovation stage, which made them automatically want to try it when it hit the market."
In 2021, UDF worked with Paytronix Systems Inc. to relaunch the loyalty program, which was formerly called U-Drive. There were two main drivers behind the overhaul: to make it easier for U-Drive Plus members to save more on gasoline and merchandise, and to create exclusivity around the highest perceived value promotions for those who registered.
"We nearly doubled registrations from April to May by doubling everyday cents off gas, requiring U-Drive Plus for hand-dipped ice cream promotions, and having QR codes everywhere to download the app and register," Jenkins explained.
She noted that allowing customers to register on the app removes the necessity of carrying a physical loyalty card — one that can be lost, taking any saved rewards with it — and provides them access to the retailer's Low Price Lock when gas prices increase.
Cincinnati-based United Dairy Farmers operates nearly 200 convenience stores across Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.