In lieu of loyalty programs, Chipotle leans on online sweepstakes

Chipotle Mexican Grill is partnering with Amazon to extend the shelf life of its “Cultivating Thought” campaign with a new online sweepstakes, Super Short Book Report. 

The sweepstakes invites participants to submit a 103-character book report about a short story published via “Cultivating Thought” for the chance to win a number of prizes, including Amazon Kindle e-readers and free burritos for a year.

Launched in May 2014, “Cultivating Thought” features original stories from authors, poets, comedians and the like on Chipotle’s branded bags and cups.

“Our mission has always been to change how people think about and eat fast food, and in addition to highlighting our fresh ingredients, we seek to encourage curiosity in our customers about the world around them,” said Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle’s chief creative and development officer. “Cultivating Thought has succeeded as an extension of that idea, by not only inspiring new ways of thinking, but by also extending the customer experience in our restaurants.”

Online giveaways may play a greater part in Chipotle’s marketing mix, CFO Jack Hartung implied on a call with investors earlier this year. As the company eschews loyalty programs, giveaways are one way to achieve the goal of getting new and less-frequent customers in the door, rather than rewarding the subset of customers who are already loyal.  

Around 35 percent to 40 percent of U.S. consumers have never been to a Chipotle, and getting those customers into restaurants via an online giveaway could convert them into frequent visitors, Hartung said.

Chipotle’s latest online sweepstakes, Friend or Faux?, touted the chain’s use of sustainable and generally pronounceable ingredients via a guessing game. 

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