Loyalty is the holy grail of almost every company that serves a customer. But just as Perceval found the Holy Grail elusive, so too do most companies grapple to make sense of the intricacies and nuances of consumer loyalty. Companies that are successful at building loyalty not only build exceptional products that serve a need but they understand their consumer and most importantly understand that each consumer is an individual.

Brian Nienhaus, CEO of WeAreUnlimited, discussed The Future of Loyalty at Neustar Connect in a fascinating conversation with Neustar’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Steven Wolfe Pereira. Nienhaus’ agency is tasked with the no-doubt challenging job of helping McDonald’s to collect and process billions of pieces of data and understand the individual amongst the billions of customers the iconic brand serves each year in more than 100 countries.

McDonald’s already has a deep relationship with customers. So deep, Nienhaus noted: “Their lives have happened around the brand”.

While McDonald’s target is “everyone,” Nienhaus said that the so-called secret sauce to loyalty is in understanding the shared values and cultural preferences of each customer. Aligning goals to those elements helps forge a relationship.

McDonald’s receives billions of pieces of data a day, in fact, each order yields insights about their customers’ preferences: menu items they like, times of day they visit the stores, and who they’re eating  with. Nienhaus said small things like adding different menu items, including all-day breakfast, helps “forge a tighter relationship with the customer” that gets them to visit more often. The data tells them if they are succeeding across all segments and what to adjust to delight the customer.

One might think that a brand with more than 36,000 locations in over 100 countries is plenty big, but McDonald’s has large growth plans across multi-cultural segments. To do this they partner with multi-cultural agencies to establish unique preferences and values that help them to customize product and experience to further cement customer loyalty.

Data and technology are constantly evolving as consumers adopt different media consumption habits. Though McDonald’s has had great success in social media, they are forming new partnerships with Google, Facebook, and Snap, and looking to AI and other content partnerships to further build their marketing presence. All are tactics to stay relevant and meaningful to consumers.

Nienhaus’ team at WeAreUnlimited aims to continue evolving their already sophisticated view of McDonald’s consumer by finding ever more sophisticated ways to get a full view of the McDonald’s customer in order to forge a lasting, loyal relationship, across all places and cultures, for generations to come.