Cobs Bread bakes up a new loyalty program

The bakery retailer is going digital while carving out a niche between grocery and independents.

Cobs-2X-loyaltyCobs Bread is coming out with a new loyalty program and app – Cobs Club – in response to consumer demand that their dollars go toward more than just bread.

“The number one complaint on our previous Bread Rewards Card was that customers were rewarded for purchasing bread, but there were no rewards associated with the purchase of fresh baked treats, which is the other half of our business,” says Brad Bissonnette, VP of marketing and franchising of the insight that informed the program’s development.

The pain point is now addressed through Cobs Club, the retailer’s new loyalty app and program, replacing the previous Bread Rewards Card.

Loyalty_Bagstuffer-imageProgram highlights include a free treat on someone’s “half birthday,” marking the six months preceding someone’s birthday, a $5 dollar reward after earning 200 “Breadcrumbs” points and getting two Breadcrumbs per dollar spent, before tax.

A phased rollout earlier this year led up to a network-wide launch at the end of July, to users across its 135 bakeries in Canada – including a new one in Mississauga – and two in Connecticut.

A campaign promoting the program is launching, called “Double Up.” Devised by Vancouver’s Will Creative, and it focuses on a double points offer for rewarding in-bakery purchases throughout the entire month of September, with goals of increasing program enrollment.

“Our initial goals on acquisition in the first year was to get to 75,000 members, or 400 per bakery,” Bissonnette says. Cobs has now doubled the target to 150,000, he says, thanks to an “overwhelming” initial response.

Active membership is approximately 50% and continues to grow as people have more time to engage, he says. Redemption rates are close to 50%, while sales per transaction are above those anticipated and above those of non-loyalty holders.

Cobs Club is a replacement of its antiquated stamp card-based Loaf Rewards program, and wrapped around the notion of convenience, Bissonnette says, given the proliferation of physical cards, especially paper ones that need to be consolidated.

Making the program digital is going to make it more accessible to more people, especially its core target of families with young children coming for breakfast, snacks and school lunches.

Bissonnette says its digital customer experience platform will eventually feature a stored value card system, gift certificates and online ordering with point collection build-in.

He says the program was initially intended to be in market nine months sooner than it ran nationally, but that the brand had to pivot during COVID uncertainty, to ensuring its click-and-collect program was fully functional and that it had all its points of contact ducks in a row.

Cheetah Digital is the “engine” behind Cobs Club. The digital agency is Major Tom.

As reported in strategy, Cobs’ financial performance has only improved during the pandemic, with lockdowns nudging consumer habits in a positive direction for the brand and more Canadians prioritizing health, preparing and consuming more meals at home, and moving into more suburban communities where Cobs has a strong presence.

“We look at ourselves as kind of flanked on two sides – grocery, where we compete against bread and on the other side, we compete against cafes whether it’s like Tim Hortons or Starbucks…[and] our path forward is straight through the middle,” Bissonnette says.