For a quite a while, Chipotle executives didn’t believe loyalty programs were for them. In fact, Mark Crumpacker, CCO/CDO of Chipotle, said in September 2015*, “We don’t believe the general supposition that loyalty will make less frequent customers more frequent.”
However, from the fourth quarter of 2015 into the early second quarter of 2016, Chipotle had a few health scares that contributed to its stock prices — and sales — to take a tumble.
In summer 2016, Chipotle was ready to rethink its stance on loyalty programs and launched its Chiptopia Summer Rewards, a three-month tiered loyalty program.
It’s reasonable to assume, based on the structure of the program (that we’ll cover next) and the business challenges they were experiencing, that
Chipotle’s motivation in creating its loyalty program was to increase visits.
Note: Before we go any further, we want to make it clear that Chipotle is not a client of Paytronix. This blog post is designed to analyze the Chiptopia program, share what worked and what didn’t, and help you think — or rethink — your own loyalty program.
The Chipotle Loyalty Program Structure: How It Worked
An Interview with Content Marketing Professor Neil Feinstein
Content marketing professor and consultant Neil Feinstein has helped brands like Disney, American Express, and The New York Times improve their marketing efforts via social media, email, and mobile. In a recent interview, Neil provided insights from his years of experience that you can use to leverage content to bolster your own marketing efforts.
Paytronix: What are brands getting wrong about content marketing?
Neil: Too many brands align their marketing strategies with themselves, and not their customers. For a consumer interaction to be meaningful, it needs to be based on a consumer insight. What does the customer care about? Why should the customer care? Before marketers push out content, before they start tweeting or blogging or gramming, they need to understand the customer and then build a strategy that aligns with his/her expectations – not the business’s.
Paytronix: If that’s the case, what are most brands getting right about content marketing? […]
A cornerstone of email marketing is testing. Perhaps it’s the day of the week that you send the message, or even the imagery and text inside the message. Arguably the
most prevalent element marketers test is the subject line. The appeal of doing so is clear: You have approximately two seconds to get the reader’s attention in their inbox as their finger hovers over the delete button. Optimizing those seconds is mission critical. Search for “subject line testing” on Google and you’ll be consumed by over 6.4 million results. The majority of that content will tell you that the “winning” subject line hinges on one key metric: the message’s open rate.
One of our clients, Pinkberry, performed an A/B subject line test. With an open rate that was 12 percent higher than subject line A, subject line B outperformed its counterpart. Based on conventional wisdom, Pinkberry should have gauged subject line B as the clear winner, right? Wrong. Most email marketers […]
In case you missed it, there was a common theme among publicly held restaurant chains’ July earnings calls: Loyalty Programs. Multiple brand leaders spent a portion of their calls celebrating their loyalty programs, unequivocally stating that the programs are indeed impacting the value of the respective organizations, and that the programs are providing a competitive advantage.
Even Chipotle, a brand that has been a notorious, non-believer in loyalty programs, noted the value in the data they received from their short-term visit challenge promotion, Chiptopia. The promotion resembles the tip of the spear for a longer-term program. Below is a recap of the notable loyalty program mentions. But first, here’s an executive summary of the highlights:
Bloomin’ Brands expects a 1% – 2% lift in sales as a result of rolling out its rewards program system wide, per CEO Liz Smith.
Dominos on its loyalty program: “All of this outstanding brand momentum helped us grow diluted EPS by 21% over the prior year quarter. Our recently launched loyalty program contributed significantly to our traffic gains,” said CFO Jeff Lawrence
Starbucks’ Howard Shultz stated, “Our loyalty program is the cornerstone of our digital flywheel, noting that the program now has over 19 million Starbucks Reward members…”
Panera Bread’s president Andrew Madsen said, “Let’s talk about loyalty. Our MyPanera loyalty program now sits at 23 million members that represent nearly 50% of our transactions and the program is growing. In addition, MyPanera users are very loyal with double the visit frequency of our nonmember customers. We believe this is by far the largest loyalty program in the industry and a significant competitive advantage.”
Chipotle Mexican Grill is encouraged by the level of data being mined from the Chiptopia loyalty promotion and will use it to further understand the behavior of its most loyal guests before the promotion, during the promotion and post promotion.
Image Source: CNBC Interview with Ron Schaich
Bloomin’ Brands spoke about loyalty in its July 29, 2016 earnings call, praising the early success of its newly introduced Dine Rewards program. Bloomin’ Brands launched Dine Rewards as its first multi-brand loyalty program on July 19, and CEO Liz Smith spoke to the early success of the program, noting, “It has already received high marks for its simplicity and value relative to peer programs. Guests also appreciate the ability to enjoy the benefits across our portfolio of brands.”
Smith continued to say the program has been in test since 2013, proving to be an effective means to drive frequency and increase sales. “When it reaches maturity, we expect Dine Rewards to drive a 1% to 2% lift in sales consistent with what we have received in six test markets,” said Smith. “The program was just launched nationally 2 weeks ago and we now have over 800,000 members enrolled.” […]