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Chipotle revamps rewards program

Chipotle Mexican Grill is testing a new program that makes its loyalty program accessible to more customers.

On Monday, the fast-casual chain began piloting a new mobile-based loyalty program. Called Chipotle Rewards, the points-based loyalty system is being tested in Phoenix, Columbus, Ohio, and Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri. A national launch is slated for 2019.

Customers can enroll via the Chipotle app or online. Users earn 10 points for every $1 spent, and 1,250 points earns customers a free entrée. To drive more digital orders, Chipotle is rewarding customers with 15 points for every $1 spent in the app and online for a limited time.

To customize user experiences, the company is also using a sophisticated, hyper-personalized CRM program. Using the system to analyze customer purchase histories, the company can better target communications, such as birthday rewards and incentives that drive trials, menu exploration and brand affinity, according to the company.

"Chipotle Rewards is a critical part of our efforts to digitize and modernize the restaurant experience," said Curt Garner, chief digital and information officer at Chipotle. "Through this program, we can show some love to Chipotle super fans, create a true one-on-one relationship with our customers and unlock new opportunities to engage through offers and discounts.”

Chipotle Rewards replaces Chiptopia, a temporary three-month program that launched in 2016. Chiptopia, which rewarded customers for their visit frequency as opposed to dollars spent, enabled users to earn free meals after their fourth, eighth, and 11th visits each month, according to Business Insider.

The new program coincides with the company’s efforts to expand the mobile customer experience and drive additional growth in the digital channel. Other digital initiatives include a redesigned ordering website, the introduction of online catering, additional out-of-store payment options, "Smarter Pickup Times," or the ability to reserve a pickup time. The service enables the company to process more digital orders without disrupting service or throughput in its restaurants, Chipotle reported.

All initiatives also support the company’s bigger goal which is to lure customers back to its restaurants following a chain of events that took a toll on the brand’s reputation and sales. These include a data breach in the spring of 2017, as well as a wave of food safety incidents that date back to 2015. The most recent incident involved nearly 650 people who "self-reported gastrointestinal symptoms" after eating at a Powell, Ohio location in late July, according to USA Today, which cited a report from Ohio's Delaware General Health District.
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