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01/13/2021

Chipotle spices up personalization with centralized data platform

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Chipotle Mexican Grill is targeting customers by individual interests and activities, as well as by taste in food.

The quick-service restaurant chain has traditionally had voluminous customer data, but no comprehensive customer data platform. By deploying the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights platform, Chipotle can now organize, analyze, and enrich its customer information to target marketing efforts at a more granular level.

Chipotle has multiple sources of customer data, including a loyalty program with more than 17 million members, POS data, a customer care center, and digital platforms. But the company lacked a comprehensive customer data platform or other convenient way to use that information to drive business insights or improve marketing campaigns and analytics. 

Chipotle launched its loyalty program in March 2019, at which time the company started gathering more information than it ever had about customers, along with the ability to track customers over time. Recognizing how impactful all this data could be, the retailer decided to implement a new customer data platform.

The company conducted thorough research into available solutions, eventually selecting Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights. Chipotle based this decision on its ability to customize the Microsoft Dynamics solution for its specific needs, as well the platform’s interoperability with its existing systems and the ability to work with Microsoft Azure services like Azure Data Factory pipelines. 

Chipotle has millions of customers a year across its thousands of locations, and with Customer Insights, the company can gain a deep understanding of individual customer preferences, such as time of day they typically visit and favorite meals. Using the map, match, and merge logic of the solution, Chipotle can standardize and reconcile conflicting data and then set up business rules and act on them appropriately. This leads to unified profiles that provide a granular view which can facilitate highly specific messages.

In addition, using enrichment with Microsoft Graph and third-party enrichment, Chipotle can capture and better understand customers who purchase from Chipotle but aren’t members of the loyalty program. The third-party enrichment was particularly significant, adding up to 30% more customers. Through the enrichment process, Chipotle narrowed down hundreds of millions of source customer records using 50 match rules to produce accurate unified customer profiles and link more than a billion activities to these customers.

With a unified view of each customer, Chipotle created an extensive number of measures that drive key performance indicators (KPIs), including customers’ primary base entrées, primary proteins, primary order channels, rewards anniversaries, and average online order values, create robust segmentation for marketing efforts.

Through increased insight into customer behaviors, Chipotle can directly target customers with messages that appeal to them. For example, if a person is mostly a weekday customer and has been opting for delivery, Chipotle is likely to get good results with a message about free delivery on Mondays. If a customer isn’t a loyalty member, a message targeting the loyalty program can bring them into the company’s digital ecosystem.

“Every customer is different,” said Sashi Kommineni, director of enterprise analytics, Chipotle Mexican Grill. “Customer Insights allows us to understand each customer’s differences and market to them as a unique individual. The opportunities for personalization are just fantastic.”

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. had over 2,700 restaurants as of Sept. 30, 2020, in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, and Germany. It is the only restaurant company of its size that owns and operates all its stores.