Chipotle’s Unique Approach to Customer Loyalty
Recently, Chipotle Mexican Grill introduced a three-month loyalty program in an effort to gain its customers back after a national scare of food safety concerns last year. Enrolling in the program, called “Chiptopia,” starts with a card given to a customer when paying for their Chipotle purchase. The cashier will swipe the card at the time of purchase to begin accumulating rewards. Cards must be registered by users on the Chipotle website.
It’s a bit different than most loyalty programs: instead of accumulating points or by spending a certain amount of money, customers get rewarded by making multiple visits per month, with a maximum of one paying visit (a minimum of $6) per member per day. Every four paying visits brings you to the next reward level, thus rewarding customers with their earned free entree. Additionally, redeeming each free entree counts towards reaching the next reward level. Reaching each reward level in every month of the program (July, August, and September of 2016) qualifies customers for bonus rewards.
While it is a unique approach to rewarding customers, experts wonder if Chiptopia will really work. For example, will groups of people who normally pay for meals together hold up the line behind them to pay for their orders individually to get closer to their next reward, or will they ignore the program all together? The potential of longer lines and slower service might deter potential customers from even walking through the door to the restaurant, especially if on limited time. Frequent Chipotle-goers who order the same entree each visit might enjoy using the program–after all, just one visit per week per month will get you to the first reward level–but are they willing to make up to three visits per week? Additionally, its potential summer success may not transition well into the remainder of the year.
The question of whether Chiptopia truly is a loyalty program also exists–is it really meant to reward its frequent customers? Because of its short duration, it’s also considered a promotion. It’s likely that the success of this program will depend on its most loyal and frequent customers.