Chili’s Set to Integrate Loyalty Program with Plenti Coalition

Chili’s Grill & Bar, the flagship brand of Brinker International, Inc., didn’t perform up to expectations during its fiscal third quarter and CEO Wyman Roberts wants to invest more in the brand in several key areas, notably its loyalty program.

“We’re dramatically expanding our direct marketing capabilities and reach as we integrate our loyalty program with the Plenti coalition, which reaches tens of millions of consumers nationwide,” Roberts explained during the April 19 third quarter earnings call, according to Seeking Alpha. “Our plan is to go live during the first quarter of fiscal ‘17.”

Plenti, the first U.S.-based loyalty coalition, currently includes AT&T, ExxonMobil, Macy’s, Nationwide, Rite Aid, Direct Energy, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and Hulu. Plenti, a program operated by American Express, launched in May 2015 to offer members numerous ways to earn points and use them to save on the things they already shop for every day, regardless of the payment method used.

By the second half of 2016, My Chili’s Rewards members will be able to enjoy the additional benefits associated with the Plenti program while maintaining their existing loyalty status. Plenti members will be able to both earn and use Plenti points when dining at Chili’s restaurants nationwide as well as use points to pay for their favorite Chili’s Fresh Tex™ and Fresh Mex™ items when picking up a meal to-go.

“We believe the key to regaining momentum lies within our control, specifically the quality and value of the experience that we promote and deliver to our guests,” Roberts said. “The sizzling steak platform we introduced during Q3 offered a high quality product with innovative presentations and flavors that drove significant preference at a price point of $11.99, but we needed to do more with our value proposition and messaging to driving traffic. So now we've come to the market with even more compelling offer, new flavor profiles on our world famous baby back ribs along with fries, salad, and the dessert for just $10.99. And, unlike the third quarter when the media rates were lower than last year, we’re kicking off the rib promotion with media comparable to last year and we brought back our iconic baby back ribs jingle with the contemporary approach to share the new news with consumers. This is just the first step as we continue to increase intensity of our strategy into the new fiscal year.”

What’s more, Roberts explained that the company’s focus as it moves toward fiscal 2017 is to invest back into the brand in several key areas to “get us back to taking share, growing the business the right way and delivering results through sustainable topline growth.”

As a result, he said Chili’s will recalibrate its value proposition as it evaluates how its 2 for $20 program stands up against today’s competitive landscape.

“We’re testing some aggressive options to deliver the most compelling value proposition that makes good sense for our business,” he explained. “Second, we’ll push even harder on culinary innovation as we continue to enhance our core equities and bring new product to the market that broaden our reach in the field. Third, we know we have to shake up our marketing strategy and breakthrough more effectively. So we’re going to invest back in the media more heavily and launch a whole new created campaign to reintroduce the brand to consumers.”

Amid all of these changes, Roberts noted that there is much work left to do.

“We also know we have a great brand that we’re proud off and the consumers love,” he added. “We haven’t lost brand appeal. We just need to make ourselves more relevant in today’s environment and we know what we need to focus on to make that happen. And now we know we have to be significantly more aggressive in our approach. We’re committed to investing in a way that we believe can keep our business model intact and continue to deliver the cash flow and dividends our shareholders have grown accustomed to while growing the topline and starting to take share like we’ve been known for in the past.”

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