How Digital Can Help Brands Create Personalized Experiences for Guests

For the past several years—and especially since the pandemic—restaurant brands have focused on enhancing digital experiences that allow them to offer more off-premise options and streamline operations to address staff shortages. While digital tools help solve these problems and open up a new world of marketing possibilities, they can also help brands create more personalized experiences, and therefore, a more meaningful relationship with their guests. 


As brands push forward with digital growth, they can create experiences that feel tailor-made for each guest while nurturing their brand image. Here, we look at three brands blazing new marketing paths that surprise and delight guests, increase sales and ROI, and create meaningful interactions that showcase brand personality. These brands aren’t just using digital for digital’s sake: they’re making life easier and more enjoyable—if only for a few minutes—for their guests, while cultivating true brand loyalty and LTV. 

Blaze Pizza: Breaking through the noise with cultural relevance

Before refining their digital strategy, Blaze Pizza used a one-size fits all marketing approach, sending frequent emails to the entirety of their customer database. These communications were heavy on discounts and had little brand voice or personality. 

With new leadership and Bounteous as a growth partner, Blaze evolved their digital strategy, started communicating using their brand story and segmenting based on customer behaviors and brand interactions. Bounteous partners with Blaze to educate and excite guests about things that matter to them most: feeding the family quality ingredients, celebrating new occasions, and rewarding guests for their loyalty.

One of the most successful brand activations is Blaze’s annual BYO madness campaign that runs in conjunction with the basketball tournament. It allows customers to vote for their favorite ingredients through ordering via Blaze’s digital build-your-own virtual pizza builder. Ingredients compete each week to create a fan-voted ultimate pizza that’s revealed before the championship game. This activation gives Blaze the opportunity to hear directly from fans and highlight elements of their brand story like their tomatoes that are sourced from second-generation family owned farms or how they serve their delicious fresh-made dough. This winning combination of cultural relevance + brand story + seamless digital experiences has been a recipe for growth. 

Dutch Bros: Empowering the customer to personalize their experience 

Dutch Bros has created excitement from its community of raving fans by giving them the power to personalize their digital experience. As a member of Dutch Rewards, customers earn digital stickers that can be used to personalize their app and serve as a great way for their employees (known as “Broistas”), to make an instant connection. As an added layer of convenience, customers can load funds onto their app and pre-set payment preferences, streamlining the experience and improving operational metrics such as wait times.

Since the launch of the app in January 2021, Dutch Bros continues to listen to customers as they build their innovation roadmap, evolving the experience by creating new ways for customers to engage through the “Fun Stuff” area and the ability to share rewards with family and friends. These strategies have translated into industry-leading results and are recognized as a key driver of Dutch Bros’ business growth.

Wawa: Creating fun, interactive ways for fans to engage 

Wawa, one of the most successful convenience store brands in history, is a shining example of how brands can use digital in a myriad of fun, innovative, and profitable ways. The loyalty of their customer base is legendary—and Wawa constantly finds new and exciting ways for fans to engage with the brand. 

In recent years, social media has played a major part in Wawa’s digital growth strategy. Bounteous manages and leads social listening, measurement, community management, and content creation for the brand’s social channels. Over the 10+ year partnership between Bounteous and Wawa, their social media following has grown from zero to more than two million. Now, fans post their favorite beverages and menu items, snapshots in their Wawa gear, and celebratory moments on the brand’s social channels using #wawarun. 

Personalization Drives Results

Brands who are making investments in digital and connecting with customers on a personal level are reaping financial benefits. Across the customer life cycle, a savvy marketing personalization strategy delivers unparalleled ROI that makes a major impact on your bottom line. Research has shown that personalization can:

  • Reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50 percent.
  • Lift revenues by five to 15 percent.
  • Increase the efficiency of marketing spend by 10 to 30 percent

Additionally, 83 percent of marketers believe that personalization is differentiating, and 94 percent of businesses with extensive personalization agree that it distinguishes them from their competitors. 

Some operators mistakenly believe that going digital might harm the customer service experience. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. To the contrary, digital helps operators figure out who their audience is, what they respond to, and the best times to communicate with each of them.