Thorntons Launches New Refreshing Rewards Program

Thorntons convenience store

PrintNew loyalty program is based on visits, not points or purchases.

By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor

Thorntons just announced the launch of its new Refreshing Rewards program, which is focused on enhancing experiences for its customer base across all its markets.

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“A loyalty program is something we have been looking into for a number of years. You certainly see the (channel) leaders offering loyalty programs as are those influencing the channel. It wasn’t a question of when we would launch one, so much as it was finding the right program and having it in place so we could move forward with it,” Jeff Keune, chief marketing officer of Thorntons Inc., told CSD. “We have been observing and exploring over the last year and 18 months, we’ve been testing and now was the right time to roll it out.”

How It Works
The Refreshing Rewards program is unique, because it is based on visits, not on points or purchase amounts—every time customers checkout, they get a “visit.”

“We partnered with Paytronix, and developed it off of a platform that will help us engage our guests and develop a strong relationship with our guests. We wanted to be able to reward our guests for choosing Thorntons, so we’re not concerned about exactly what they buy or when they’re there. We’re concerned about having the opportunity to create a great experience. The rewards are based on visits, but we also wanted to build in some finish lines that we would have an opportunity to celebrate,” Keune said.

The program features a welcome, premium and VIP level, with different benefits at each level.

The welcome level begins when customers sign up. Once they register they get 10 cents off per gallon of gas for the first 30 days.

After 10 visits, guests graduate to the Premium Level, where benefits include gas price alerts, 10 cents off per gallon on their birthday and emailed receipts. After 25 visits, customers reach the VIP level, which includes three cents off per gallon of gas on every fill up, 24-hour low fuel price guarantee and personalized VIP graphics.

In addition to the three levels are surprise benefits. “We brought in what we’re calling ‘perks,’ or rewards along the way that are based on the things that customer buys the most and items we think they might want,” Keune said. “So we built that surprise and delight benefit into the program, and it’s similar to what you might see in Panera or similar programs out there in the restaurant space.”

Customers can use the loyalty platform they’re most comfortable with to gain rewards. “In addition to the mobile option, when guests register we’ll give them a standard card and keyfob, and we also ask for a phone number, which they can use as an alternate ID at the pump or inside the store,” he added.

The Refreshing Rewards program was rolled out in Lexington and Nashville in March of this year, but is now available in all markets Thorntons serves. Headquartered in Louisville, Ky., Thorntons operates 178 gasoline and convenience stores, car washes and travel plazas in six states: Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Florida. During the official launch of the program customers have enjoyed live music, giveaways, free samples and more.

“At the end of the day, we hope to build true loyalty with this program,” Keune said. “It’s as much as about rewarding our guests as it is showing our appreciation and creating a relationship with our guests. We built a program around that concept and the insight is if you can create that relationship and continue to build a strong brand, then you can grow your business overtime.”

For more information on the program:


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