Chipotle Mexican Grill wants to give customers a reason to keep coming in the door.
The Newport Beach, Calif.-based fast-casual chain is testing a long-awaited loyalty program in three markets, with plans to expand it nationally next year.
The markets are Phoenix, Kansas City, Mo., and Columbus, Ohio.
“We’ve been very focused on making our brand more accessible and growing love and loyalty among our customers,” Curt Garner, chief digital and information officer at Chipotle, said in a statement.
Under the program, customers in the test markets can sign up for Chipotle Rewards through the chain’s smartphone app or on Chipotle.com. People who enroll can earn 10 points for every $1 spent, with 1,250 points earning them a free entree without restrictions.
The fast-casual burrito chain is also using the program to drive more digital orders, with 15 points for every $1 spent on the company’s app or website. Customers in test markets will earn free chips and guacamole after their first purchase.
The program includes “a highly personalized CRM program” behind the scenes that allows for targeted communications to get customers to test the program and try new menu items. It’s being tested with the company’s new stage-gate process that allows Chipotle to test new ideas and get customer feedback before expanding those ideas nationally.
“Chipotle Rewards is a critical part of our efforts to digitize and modernize the restaurant experience,” Garner said. He said the program will “create a true one-on-one relationship with our customers to engage through offers and discounts.” That includes birthday offers and providing incentives for incremental purchases.
Chipotle Rewards is considered a key element in the chain’s marketing and digital strategy under new CEO Brian Niccol. The company recently added direct delivery service and has a second make-line in more of its restaurants to improve service and speed. It is also adding digital pickup shelves so customers can get their food faster.
The company recently revealed a new advertising and marketing campaign to highlight its natural ingredients, and it has released some new menu items, such as bacon, and a couple of old ones, such as chorizo.