As an avid bubble tea fan, I don’t think there’s anything more rewarding after a long day at work than a cup of bubble tea.  Nobody knows this better than Chatime. Known for their varie-tea of drink choices, Chatime always knows how to spice things up and continues to find new ways to engage their customers.

chatime rewards homepage

This desire for keeping things fresh is ultimately what motivated them to begin a loyalty program.  Chatime Rewards is a loyalty program designed for Chatime’s Canadian market. In this loyalty case study, I will be highlighting the pros and cons of the Chatime Rewards program to find out if this program is perfectly percolated or if it needs to steep a bit longer.

How Chatime Gets People Bubbly

Due to the high competition in the food and beverage industry, customer loyalty is really difficult to pin down. With their loyalty program, Chatime is looking to increase their customers’ engagement with their brand to stay ahead in this growing market.  The following three factors are proof that they’re on the right track.

1. Simple System

I was originally drawn to the Chatime Rewards program because it was super easy to understand. Whenever I purchase bubble tea, I know I’ll be earning one point. Each point I collect excites me because every ten points I earn, I receive a free drink. This is just one more reason I really love Chatime – their program’s super simple and they know what I want.

chatime rewards explainer structure

Understanding what motivates their customers is something Chatime does really well. Knowing that their customers are looking for easy, affordable, and delicious solutions, they’ve designed a simple two-tiered program that is immediately easy to engage with and understand.  Now, instead of wasting time trying to figure out how it works, customers simply have to show up, enjoy their drinks, and be rewarded for it.  This creates a positive customer experience that people will want to engage with every time.

2. Creative Explainer Video

Just like a lot of other people, I’m a visual learner. Studies have shown that people can retain up to 65% of information that’s been presented visually. That’s why video marketing is an amazing tool to use for a brand’s marketing strategy.

Chatime took this to heart by going the extra mile, designing a fun and simple video explaining both the basics of their loyalty program and the rewards you’re able to earn.

Presenting their loyalty program’s information through video allows customers to get the information they need much quicker.  This consideration is what makes their program so simple to understand.  Nobody either wants or has the time to read a long page of text these days.  By giving them easier access to the information they need, Chatime gives their customers more time to drink bubble tea and rack up more rewards.

3. Personalized Membership Cards

My absolute favourite thing Chatime does with their loyalty program is personalization. When a customer moves up to the Elite tier of Chatime Rewards, Chatime congratulates them by sending them direct mail that includes a personalized Black Elite Chatime card. Yes, a personalized card!  (Thumbs up Chatime, thumbs up.)

chatime rewards card instagram

Social media makes it clear that customers love this initiative. Personalization makes customers feel special, which is something everybody wants.  Chatime understands this basic need and has created an experience that gets customers excited. The more excited customers are the more likely they are to share their experience with others, and this sharing is what helps create exciting brand communities.

Where Chatime Spilled the Tea

Even though Chatime has had success with their program, there are still some areas where their loyalty program misses the mark.

1. Difficult to Find

Finding information beyond what is displayed in the explainer video is tough. After looking over their rewards page (or should I say “pages”), I still had a lot of questions: how long do I have my points for? How long can I keep my rewards? Can I customize and upsize my drinks?

I did three different searches to find more information, yet always came up empty.

chatime rewards first search

My first search was quite tragic. This is actually their mobile website. It wasn’t overly attractive on my desktop and made me question if I should continue searching for more information. I quickly left this page and looked for more info somewhere else.

chatime rewards additional search

My second search was a bit better…visually. Information wise, it was still not very helpful. The information on the page was out of date and location specific which, for a customer like me, isn’t very useful. Having information that is both location and time specific does not help the customer searching for general information about the program.

chatime rewards third search

I was really optimistic about this last search, but again my optimism got the best of me. This page was, once again, unsuccessful at answering the basic questions I have pertaining to their rewards program.

A big reason why customers sign up for a loyalty program is because they clearly understand what they’re signing up for and know how they’ll be benefitting from it.  Every piece of information shared on an explainer page should be relevant to every customer. By leaving time and location sensitive information online, Chatime has done significant damage to their professional image, and left me wondering what information still applies.

2. Physical Card is Required

While owning an exclusive card for a brand’s rewards program makes me feel pretty good,what happens if I’m buying something in-store and I forget my card at home? Or worse, what if I lose it? In the case of Chatime Rewards, the answer kinda sucks. In the event that you do lose your card, you have to pay them $1 for a general replacement or $3 if you’re an Elite member.  That’s not a great way to treat your best-paying customers!

chatime rewards card

At this point, loyalty programs that only use physical reward cards are pretty out of date. Unlike other largely successful programs like Starbucks, Chatime does not have an integrated mobile solution that gives customers the accessibility to track their points and rewards on their phone. Not utilizing current technologies can really harm a brand’s image by making it feel old or not modern. In the end, the less convenient a loyalty program is the less likely someone is to join it – a rather unfortunate reality Chatime will have to face.

3. Limited Tier System

I know I said “simplicity” has worked well for Chatime. However, speaking from a retention marketing point of view, they are not maximizing what a tiered loyalty program can offer. By only using two tiers, they’re missing opportunities to enhance their customer engagement.

chatime rewards vip potential

Adding a third tier to Chatime’s current loyalty program would open a lot of doors. Another tier is a new level that challenges customers to spend more to achieve more. This in turn makes a customer spend more time within the brand. If you’re going set up a loyalty program, take full advantage of it!

Chatime Rewards – Sweet and Simple

Despite my disappointment with the lack of information and organization of Chatime Rewards, the program works. Customers continue to love the product and collect points. If they take the time to develop a mobile app and expand their customer tiers, there’s no telling how big this program can grow!

Needless to say, at the end of the day Chatime Rewards still gets me Bubbly!