Nkosinathi Emanuel Mdletshe


This study investigates the dynamics of customer loyalty within South African fast-food restaurants, focusing on the influence of loyalty programs on customer retention. The background highlights the rapid growth of the South African fast-food industry and the need for a nuanced understanding of customer behavior in this context. Employing a quantitative methods approach employed a cross-sectional design; the methodology includes a comprehensive situational analysis and addresses three research questions: customer motivations for loyalty program participation, factors beyond loyalty programs affecting retention, and the impact of existing loyalty programs on retention. Findings reveal that emotional connections, trustworthiness, and perceived value are key motivators for program participation. Beyond loyalty initiatives, service quality, menu variety, and overall customer experience significantly impact retention. Loyalty program metrics, including participation rates and reward perceived value, play a crucial role in customer loyalty. The study concludes that businesses should tailor loyalty programs to local preferences, adopt a holistic approach to customer retention, and optimize program metrics. The practical implications emphasize the need for clear communication and cultural sensitivity. This research contributes to the academic literature by addressing gaps specific to the South African context and provides actionable insights for businesses aiming to enhance customer loyalty in this dynamic and competitive market.


Article visualizations:

Hit counter


loyalty programs, customer retention, fast-food restaurants

Full Text:



Ahmad-Fuzir, F.N., & A Rahman, M.K.B. (2020). The mediating effect of customer satisfaction on the relationship between service quality, relationship quality, relationship quality, perceived value, and perceived price towards repurchase intention in the fast food industry. Social and Management Research Journal, 17(2), 371-397.

Ahmed, A., Naseer, R., Asadullah, M., & Khan, H. (2020). Managing Service Quality, Food Quality, Price Fairness, and Customer Retention: A Holistic Perspective. Annals of Contemporary Developments in Management & HR, 2632-7686.

Alagarsamy, S., Mehrolia, S., & Singh, B. (2021). Mediating effect of brand relationship quality on relational bonds and online grocery retailer loyalty. Journal of Internet Commerce, 20(2), 246-272.

Alshurideh, M., Gasaymeh, A., Ahmed, G., Alzoubi, H., & Kurd, B. (2020). Loyalty program effectiveness: Theoretical reviews and practical proofs. Uncertain Supply Chain Management, 8(3), 599-612.

Bajpai, H., & Venaik, A. (2023). A Study on the Loyalty Market in E-Commerce Business. Constructive Discontent in Execution: Creative Approaches to Technology and Management, 159.

Baker, M.A., & Legendre, T.S. (2021). Unintended negative consequences of loyalty programs: endowed vs earned loyalty. Journal of Services Marketing, 35(2), 210-221.

Bauer, J. C., Linzmajer, M., Nagengast, L., Rudolph, T., & D'Cruz, E. (2020). Gamifying the digital shopping experience: games without monetary participation incentives increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. Journal of Service Management, 31(3), 563-595.

Beal, T., Morris, S.S., & Tumilowicz, A. (2019). Global patterns of adolescent fruit, vegetable, carbonated soft drink, and fast-food consumption: a meta-analysis of global school-based student health surveys. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 40(4), 444-459.

Belli, A., O’Rourke, A. M., Carrillat, F. A., Pupovac, L., Melnyk, V., & Napolova, E. (2022). 40 years of loyalty programs: how effective are they? Generalizations from a meta-analysis. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 50(1), 147-173.

Bi, Q. (2019). Cultivating loyal customers through online customer communities: A psychological contract perspective. Journal of Business Research, 103, 34-44.

Danaher, P.J., Sajtos, L., & Danaher, T.S. (2020). Tactical use of rewards to enhance loyalty program effectiveness. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 37(3), 505-520.

Dastjerdi, A. M., Kaplan, S., Silva, J.D.A., Nielsen, O. A., & Pereira, F. C. (2019). Participating in environmental loyalty program with a real-time multimodal travel app: User needs, environmental and privacy motivators. Transport and Environment, 67, 223-243.

Dlamini, S., & Chinje, N.B. (2019). The influence of loyalty programs on South African Youth’s repeat purchase behaviour. Journal of Business and Retail Management Research, 13(3).

Dose, D.B., Walsh, G., Beatty, S.E., & Elsner, R. (2019). Unintended reward costs: The effectiveness of customer referral reward programs for innovative products and services. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 47, 438-459.

Grönroos, C. (1994). From Marketing Mix to Relationship Marketing: Towards a Paradigm Shift in Marketing. Management Decision, 32, 4-20.

Habanabakize, T. (2020). Assessing the impact of interest rate, catering, and fast-food income on employment in the social services industry. International Journal of Economics and Finance, 12(2), 534-550.

Hernandez‐Ortega, B., & Ferreira, I. (2021). How smart experiences build service loyalty: The importance of consumer love for smart voice assistants. Psychology & Marketing, 38(7), 1122-1139.

Hollingshead, S.J., & Wohl, M. J. (2022). Loyalty Program Rewards Increases Willingness to Use Responsible Gambling Tools and Attitudinal Loyalty. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 1-17.

Hwang, J., & Choi, L. (2020). Having fun while receiving rewards?: Exploration of gamification in loyalty programs for consumer loyalty. Journal of Business Research, 106, 365-376.

Jang, S., Chong, K., & Yoo, C. (2021). The effect of mobile application-driven customer participation on bakery purchase behavior: Evidence from a field experiment. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 94, 102865.

Kim, J.J., Steinhoff, L., & Palmatier, R.W. (2021). An emerging theory of loyalty program dynamics. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 49, 71-95.

Koo, B., Yu, J., & Han, H. (2020). The role of loyalty programs in boosting hotel guest loyalty: Impact of switching barriers. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 84, 102328.

Kumar, V., Rajan, B., Gupta, S., & Pozza, I.D. (2019). Customer engagement in service. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 47, 138-160.

Kwiatek, P., Morgan, Z., & Thanasi-Boçe, M. (2020). The role of relationship quality and loyalty programs in building customer loyalty. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 35(11), 1645-1657.

Ledikwe, A., Stiehler-Mulder, B., & Roberts-Lombard, M. (2020). Product involvement, WOM and eWOM in the fast food industry: A young adult perspective in an emerging African economy. Cogent Business & Management, 7(1), 1817288.

Liu, J., & Jo, W. (2020). Value co-creation behaviors and hotel loyalty program member satisfaction based on engagement and involvement: Moderating effect of company support. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 43, 23-31.

Maphumulo, W.T., & Bhengu, B.R. (2019). Challenges of quality improvement in the healthcare of South Africa post-apartheid: A critical review. Curationis, 42(1), 1-9.

Mofokeng, T.E. (2021). The impact of online shopping attributes on customer satisfaction and loyalty: Moderating effects of e-commerce experience. Cogent Business & Management, 8(1), 1968206.

Nastasoiu, A., & Vandenbosch, M. (2019). Competing with loyalty: How to design successful customer loyalty reward programs. Business Horizons, 62(2), 207-214.

Naudé, C., Henrico, A., & Van Staden, L. (2022). Service quality in the fast-food franchise industry in Gauteng. The Retail and Marketing Review, 18(2), 150-165.

O'Brien, I.M., Ouschan, R., Jarvis, W., & Soutar, G. N. (2020). Drivers and relationship benefits of customer willingness to engage in CSR initiatives. Journal of Service Theory and Practice, 30(1), 5-29.

Otterbach, S., Oskorouchi, H. R., Rogan, M., & Qaim, M. (2021). Using Google data to measure the role of Big Food and fast food in South Africa’s obesity epidemic. World Development, 140, 105368.

Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V.A. and Berry, L.L. (1988) SERVQUAL: A Multiple-Item Scale for Measuring Consumer Perceptions of Service Quality. Journal of Retailing, 64, 12-40.

Petersen, J., Venkatesan, R., & Khodakarami, F. (2019). Designing and effectively managing customer-centric loyalty programs. Handbook on customer centricity, 180-206.

Rather, R.A. (2019). Consequences of consumer engagement in service marketing: An empirical exploration. Journal of Global Marketing, 32(2), 116-135.

Shin, M., Back, K. J., Lee, C.K., & Lee, Y. S. (2020). Enhancing customer-brand relationship by leveraging loyalty program experiences that foster customer-brand identification. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 32(12), 3991-4016.

Slack, N., Singh, G., & Sharma, S. (2020). The effect of supermarket service quality dimensions and customer satisfaction on customer loyalty and disloyalty dimensions. International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, 12(3), 297-318.

Sochenda, S. (2021). Modeling of customer satisfaction and customer loyalty in fast food industry. International Journal of Economics, Business and Accounting Research, 5(4).

Sözer, E.G. (2019). Determinants and outcomes of an effective CRM campaign: The mediating role of skepticism. International Journal of Eurasia Social Sciences/Uluslararasi Avrasya Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, 10(37).

Steinhoff, L., Arli, D., Weaven, S., & Kozlenkova, I.V. (2019). Online relationship marketing. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 47, 369-393.

Suhartanto, D., Helmi Ali, M., Tan, K.H., Sjahroeddin, F., & Kusdibyo, L. (2019). Loyalty toward online food delivery service: the role of e-service quality and food quality. Journal of foodservice business research, 22(1), 81-97.

Szejda, K., Stumpe, M., Raal, L., & Tapscott, C.E. (2021). South African consumer adoption of plant-based and cultivated meat: A segmentation study. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 5, 744199.

Tadesse, W., Bishaw, Z., & Assefa, S. (2019). Wheat production and breeding in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges and opportunities in the face of climate change. International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, 11(5), 696-715.

Ting, D.H., Abbasi, A.Z., & Ahmed, S. (2021). Examining the mediating role of social interactivity between customer engagement and brand loyalty. Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, 33(5), 1139-1158.

Utz, M., Johanning, S., Roth, T., Bruckner, T., & Strüker, J. (2023). From ambivalence to trust: Using blockchain in customer loyalty programs. International Journal of Information Management, 68, 102496.

Wang, J.J., & Lalwani, A.K. (2019). The distinct influence of power distance perception and power distance values on customer satisfaction in response to loyalty programs. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 36(4), 580-596.

Wang, L., Luo, X.R., & Lee, F. (2019). Unveiling the interplay between blockchain and loyalty program participation: A qualitative approach based on Bubichain. International Journal of Information Management, 49, 397-410.

Yang, M.X., Chan, H., Yu, I.Y., & Fock, H. (2019). Consumer motivation for reward pursuit: A culture-based and progress-based model of loyalty program effectiveness. Journal of Global Marketing, 32(4), 255-268.

Yang, M.X., Zeng, K.J., Chan, H., & Irina, Y.Y. (2021). Managing loyalty program communications in the digital era: Does culture matter? Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 60, 102476.

Zhong, Y., & Moon, H.C. (2020). What drives customer satisfaction, loyalty, and happiness in fast-food restaurants in China? Perceived price, service quality, food quality, physical environment quality, and the moderating role of gender. Foods, 9(4), 460.

Zhou, R., Wang, X., Shi, Y., Zhang, R., Zhang, L., & Guo, H. (2019). Measuring e-service quality and its importance to customer satisfaction and loyalty: an empirical study in a telecom setting. Electronic Commerce Research, 19, 477-499.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2023 Nkosinathi Emanuel Mdletshe

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The research works published in this journal are free to be accessed. They can be shared (copied and redistributed in any medium or format) and\or adapted (remixed, transformed, and built upon the material for any purpose, commercially and\or not commercially) under the following terms: attribution (appropriate credit must be given indicating original authors, research work name and publication name mentioning if changes were made) and without adding additional restrictions (without restricting others from doing anything the actual license permits). Authors retain the full copyright of their published research works and cannot revoke these freedoms as long as the license terms are followed.

Copyright © 2017-2023. European Journal of Management and Marketing Studies (ISSN 2501 - 9988) is a registered trademark of Open Access Publishing GroupAll rights reserved.

This journal is a serial publication uniquely identified by an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) serial number certificate issued by Romanian National Library. All the research works are uniquely identified by a CrossRef DOI digital object identifier supplied by indexing and repository platforms. All the research works published on this journal are meeting the Open Access Publishing requirements and standards formulated by Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002), the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing (2003) and  Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (2003) and can be freely accessed, shared, modified, distributed and used in educational, commercial and non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Copyrights of the published research works are retained by authors.