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Loyalty to Die For

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Loyalty to Die For
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I need to do some consumer research. Do minor consumer revolts against good sense constitute a leading indicator of good times returning, or confirm that the economy is still struggling with frustration leading people to make irrational choices?

Whatever the answer, it seems a minor groundswell is taking place in the restaurant business with new chains opening that advocate consuming lots of calories in the form of “food to die for”.  A local eatery known as Heart Stoppers Sports Grill has attracted quite a following for its “Chili Chest Pain Fries“, “Heart Stopper 3 lb. Killer” burger and “Heart Dogs“. I guess waitress’ dressed as nurses with fishnets aren’t hurting business either.

Heart Stoppers attracted more than my attention as the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reported today that the Heart Attack Grill, an Arizona chain claiming to have ownership of  “Taste Worth Dying For” and all other things related to pumping out “fat food”  is asking Heart Stoppers to cease and desist the operation of its business model.

Heart Attack Grill touts its own brand of greasy aspirations including an array of “Bypass Burgers” and “Flatliner Fries”. If you visit their website, you’ll notice that the burgers are complemented by “No filter” Lucky Strike cigarettes and Jolt Cola. I have to wonder if both of those brands are comfortable with being thrown into the “bad health” food bin, but maybe I just think too much.

I scoured both web sites for any signs of rewards programs but didn’t see even a punch card or similar offers. One thing I did see is that the Heart Attack Grill promises that if you’re over 350 lbs., you eat for free. Apparently Heart Stoppers makes the same offer, one of many alleged copycat violations in the litigation between the two companies.

In direct marketing-speak, does this translate to an aspirational loyalty program tightly focused on a target market? Or, is crossing the threshold of 350 like being crowned a Platinum cardholder with your new tier offering soft benefits (perks) that others can’t have? I’ll leave it to you to sort out that debate. Meanwhile, I’m just worried that customers aspiring to reach the magic number that qualifies them for free food may not fare well thereafter!

I know we’re all “dying” to build customer loyalty and that many consumers are “dying” to earn enough points for that big freebie, but watching those that attain the highest tier in a program drop like flies isn’t my idea of achieving an acceptable return on investment.

Enough said, I’m going to pick up some Rolaids at CVS and earn a few more ExtraCare points! I think it’s safer.

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed by the author are influenced by his 40 mile bike ride earlier in the day and are not those of the target audience of these two restaurant chains!

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