Expect a new data-based loyalty program from Cava in 2018. / <a href='https://www.facebook.com/cavagrill/photos/a.177870215572596.47532.165974826762135/1938551706171096/?type=3&theater'>Cava Facebook</a> Expect a new data-based loyalty program from Cava in 2018. / <a href='https://www.facebook.com/cavagrill/photos/a.177870215572596.47532.165974826762135/1938551706171096/?type=3&theater'>Cava Facebook</a>
Tech

Cava, the Data-Driven Fast-Casual Restaurant, Is Personalizing Loyalty

We’ve heard from Cava, the fast-casual Mediterranean chain based in Washington, D.C., before. It uses sensors and data in its restaurants to optimize every aspect of the in-store experience, from waiting in line to ordering to paying. Now, Cava plans to use data to enhance brand loyalty.

Speaking as part of the Fast Company Innovation Festival, Cava CEO Brett Schulman said that Cava’s focus will be on personalized loyalty, likely based on previous orders and in-store behavior. If a customer constantly orders a certain type of dish, for example, the restaurant (and its associated mobile app) can offer that customer a deal or other suggestions based on their order history.

It doesn’t hurt that Cava sells some prepared foods at certain Whole Foods locations, so conceivably the restaurant can send a loyal guest to Whole Foods to pick up some of their favorite foods to try at home. Loyalty across different sales channels is powerful for a brand on its own. Adding a layer of personalization on top of that loyalty is a great way to get your brand recognized.

Speaking at this year’s TechTable Summit, Cava chief data scientist, Josh Patchus, hinted at the program, noting that communicating digitally with Cava’s customers via email and the Cava app is “the next big thing.” The important part is touting the whole in-store experience, he noted, not just optimizing for speed. “Efficiency is not the end goal,” he said. Instead, it looks like the end goal is a totally personalized experience, one that powers guest satisfaction, driving repeat visits and brand loyalty across Cava’s offerings.

As Fast Company notes, Cava secured a $30 million series C round of funding earlier this year, earmarked for expansion into both new and current markets.

According to Schulman, Cava fans can expect the loyalty program sometime next year, building what Fast Company calls a “a way to build a more intentional restaurant and retail connection.” Of course, personalized loyalty, and, by extension, Cava’s success, relies heavily on the sensors, apps, and other technology that already fuels its stores.

This post originally appeared in the November 6, 2017 Skift Table newsletter. Subscribe to get the latest in your inbox. 

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