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Cracker Barrel Is Hoping to Win You Back With New Loyalty Program

The chain is putting a spin on its famous peg game.

After experiencing an ongoing traffic decline throughout 2023, Cracker Barrel is implementing a new strategy to draw in customers. On Sept. 20, the country-themed restaurant announced the launch of Cracker Barrel Rewards, a new loyalty program inspired by the beloved wooden peg game that sits on all of the restaurant's tables.

As part of this program, members earn one peg for every dollar spent in the chain's restaurant or gift shop. These pegs can be redeemed for various food and retail items.

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Like other loyalty apps, this one is divided into tiers based on how many pegs a customer collects. At 75 pegs, guests can score one of Cracker Barrel's $5 take-home meals, a side, Barrel Bites, drinks, or $5 off a gift shop item. Then, at 150 pegs, they can get $10 off a retail purchase, desserts, or kids menu items. Once customers hit 225 pegs, they can redeem a free entrée or get $15 off a retail purchase.

This program also features a bonus game that lets Cracker Barrel customers spin a virtual wheel for even more rewards. The first three spins are free.

Customers can sign up for Cracker Barrel Rewards at any location or through the chain's website or mobile app. In addition to the program being free, Cracker Barrel is giving away free Barrel Bites to those who sign up for the program. The pegs aren't unlimited, though. Customers can only have up to 500 pegs in their rewards account at a time, and they may not earn more than 5,000 pegs in one calendar year.

This has been a difficult year for Cracker Barrel. Customer traffic levels decreased by 1.7% in the chain's second financial quarter and later fell by 3.2% in the third quarter. Then, last week, Sandy Cochran, Cracker Barrel's president, reported that fourth-quarter sales were below expectations as well, adding," [T]hese fourth quarter traffic trends will continue through most of the first quarter as well."

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The president attributed the declining traffic to a "challenged consumer environment," as well as ineffective marketing. She noted that Cracker Barrel's "message did not break through against the highly promotional advertising [it] saw from [its] competitors."

However, despite these ongoing difficulties, Cracker Barrel has high hopes for its new rewards program, which the chain tested internally in late July.

"​​We believe our loyalty program will be a key traffic driver for us over the long term," Cochran said during the chain's fourth-quarter earnings call.

Brianna Ruback
Brianna is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna