Announcing the 2021 Punchh Customer Award Winners

By: Melissa Canellis


Punchh is extremely proud to announce our third annual 2021 customer awards. These awards recognize exceptional customers who excel at using Punchh’s platform for customized loyalty program management, omnichannel engagement, digital campaigns, personalized offers, and so much more. 

This year’s winners were selected from Punchh’s customer base of more than 250 global brands, which were evaluated on quantitative and qualitative metrics, innovative usage, and platform adoption. 

The Punchh Customer Awards honor our customers who are the best of the best, who are shaping the future of customer experience, and who have positively influenced their guests with our solutions. We are impressed with not only their platform implementation, but also their collaboration and innovation when it comes to building lasting customer loyalty. Congratulations to the 2021 winners!

2021 Punchh Customer Awards

Digital Innovator – El Pollo Loco

As the nation’s leading fire-grilled chicken restaurant, El Pollo Loco is known for its handcrafted L.A. Mex food, an innovative blend of traditional Mexican cuisine and better-for-you eating. El Pollo Loco nourishes connections to tradition, culture, and one another through fire-grilled goodness. With more than 475 locations nationwide, El Pollo Loco has partnered with Punchh since 2017 to deliver a rewarding customer experience to their 2.6 million loyalty members.

As part of their ongoing digital transformation, El Pollo Loco leveraged the power of digital technology to drive program results, helping them exceed loyalty sales and transaction goals in 2021. Their strategy included focusing on digital offer testing by channel and customer segment. El Pollo Loco determined how best to engage their customers, while improving their KPIs. Additionally, they utilized modules such as challenges, surveys, and gift cards to stay ahead of the competition, while continuing to enhance the customer experience.

Top International Customer – Gabriel Pizza

Since 1977, Gabriel Pizza has specialized in pizza and Italian food with locations throughout Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. From the very beginning, they have been committed to being part of the community and giving back. 

They show appreciation for their conscious and supportive community and aspire to put a smile on people’s faces by offering Ottawa Senators game day discounts. Gabriel’s kept signup offers fresh and loyalty guests engaged to increase loyalty sales 11% QoQ while improving participation rate to 25.8%– well above the fast casual 16% benchmark. 

Rookie of the Year – HTeaO

Since partnering with Punchh in 2021, HTeaO has attained significant overall program success with clear messaging and creative marketing tactics. Their desire to provide ultra-premium Tea, Water, and related products in a fun and clean environment, sparked their innovative approach to creating quarterly LTOs. 

HTeaO utilized their loyalty program to launch everything from new flavors to new cup sizes, accomplishing consistently high campaign conversion rates at 52% Q1, 46% Q2, and 36% Q3. Furthermore, their engaging marketing strategies grew their participation rate with performances across Q2-Q4 increasing to 19.36%, 24.66%, and 29.28% for each respective quarter. 

Campaign Hotshot – Rubio’s Coastal Grill

Across Rubio’s 154 locations they pair responsibly sourced seafood with innovative menu recipes ranging from seafood tacos and burritos to California Bowls and crisp, fresh salads. Their highly targeted campaign approach kept guests coming back for more in 2021.

They launched a complex welcome series that graduated guests to different journey levels and led to higher impact with conversion metrics consistently above the fast casual 75th percentile benchmark. With additional challenges targeting guests based on purchase and visit behavior, Rubio’s demonstrated that they are marketing gurus who leveraged Punchh campaigns to drive top brand results.

Retention Rockstar – Huck’s

Huck’s convenience store chain, with 125 Midwest locations, has successfully operated for over 40 years by following one golden rule, “The customer is the most important person in all our stores.” This priority guides Huck’s loyalty strategy today, helping them achieve an over 70% retention rate QoQ. It’s only fitting they earned the Punchh 2021 Retention Rockstar award. 

Huck’s has been able to raise their loyalty customer retention each quarter due to regular, exciting offers layered in with a tailored recall journey for their guests. Splitting out messaging and rewards to re-engage lapsed usage by guest frequency, allows the Huck’s team to minimize over-discounting and provide a personalized experience to newly acquired guests. However, their loyalty marketing calendar is always full of a wide variety of offers on food, fuel, and more that leads to smaller groups of lapsed customers.

Channel Champion – NORMS

Since 1949, NORMS has been the 24/7 casual family dining place in Southern California “Where Life Happens.”  Today, NORMS fans span across generations, and it continues to grow in both presence and popularity by keeping up with its customers’ changing needs.

In 2021 NORMS added Punchh’s Online Ordering solution to better meet their fans’ lifestyles, and have been rewarded with significant growth year over year, including a 100%+ increase in same store loyalty sales. This paired with exciting new online ordering campaigns boosted NORMS overall program growth in 2021, crowning them as the Punchh 2021 Channel Champion.  

All Star – Gyu Kaku

Spending time with friends and family is what Gyu-Kaku is all about. This Japanese BBQ concept with 70 locations, wants their tabletop grilling experience to inspire laughter, conversation, and unforgettable memories.

Leaning into their Rewards Program, they accomplished this and more in 2021. They delivered Surprise and Delight offers, Double Points during their recurring “Niku Day” promo, and ongoing Bounceback Campaigns to drive customer participation, visit frequency, and sales, along with a 61% YoY increase in same store loyalty sales.  

Congratulations to the Punchh award winners who encompass the brands, teams, and individuals that go the extra mile, push the boundaries of what’s possible, deliver on the guest experience every day, and build a culture that values customer loyalty. We are so proud to partner with you.

If you’re interested in remaining at the forefront of innovation and want to succeed in an era of elevated customer experiences, check out the details of our free Platform Certification Program.

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