Chipotle: More Than 8.5 Million Rewards Program Members in Less Than a Year

On a recent earnings conference call, Chipotle Mexican Grill CEO Brian Niccol indicated that the quick-serve restaurant chain has more than 8.5 million members in its rewards program.
“While in 2019 we focused on member growth, in 2020 we will not only further increase enrollment but, more importantly, look to optimize the use of database marketing to incent behaviors as we build out our CRM capabilities,” Niccol said on the call, per a transcript posted on The Motley Fool website. “Personalization and engagement are the cornerstones of our evolving loyalty strategy. We are encouraged by the early signs of transaction increases across all frequency bands. We expect this lever to become a bigger driver in the future as we gain more experience gathering customer insight, while continuing to expand our digital ecosystem.”
Chipotle Rewards was launched in March 2019 (less than a year ago) with a straightforward structure. Members earn 10 points for every dollar spent in restaurants, online, or through the app – and 1,250 points earns a free entrée.
“Similar to how we build restaurants where people live and work, we want to have a presence in all of the places our customers spend time digitally,” Curt Garner, Chipotle’s Chief Technology Officer, said at the time of the program launch. “Chipotle Rewards is another access point for consumers, a way for guests to engage with our promise of real ingredients prepared fresh daily, and a way for us to say thank you for joining our mission of cultivating a better world.”
Garner said the program, which was put in three test markets for six months prior to nationwide deployment, was developed “thoughtfully.”
“We didn’t rush it because other people had a program in the marketplace,” Garner told Loyalty360 not long after the program was launched across the country. We said, ‘We need to make sure that we get this right.’”
If more than 8.5 million members in less than a year is any indication, Chipotle has gotten it right. And Niccol suggested more is to come.
“Now, the thing that's great is we have 8.5 million customers, and the personalization really is just getting started,” he said on the conference call.
In November 2019, the brand announced that its customers can use their Amazon Alexa devices to reorder their favorite Chipotle meals for delivery or pickup. To celebrate the new feature – as well as the company reaching seven million enrollments in its loyalty program (at that time) – Chipotle gave away Amazon Echo Dots to all its existing Chipotle Rewards members named Alexa.
Late last year Chipotle began testing a new design of its restaurants at six locations. The move is designed to support Chipotle’s increasing digital business, which it says has reached $1 billion. The new design, which aims to enhance convenience for customers and delivery drivers, features walkup windows and better placement of digital pickup portals.
“A leading brand in the world of fast-casual dining, Chipotle increased customer expectations when it first spread across the United States over a decade ago. Now, it has a customer loyalty program to continue to stay competitive and differentiated as a QSR,” said Mark Johnson, Loyalty360 CEO and CMO. “It’s impressive how many aspects of Chipotle’s organization are integrated. Customer loyalty plays a key role in the brand’s technology strategy, which shows that the brand knows the value of customer retention. Additionally, Chipotle’s sense of purpose, bringing high-quality, healthy foods to the masses, has kept the brand authentic and centered as it faces new challenges and opens new channels.”

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