- Chipotle launched a rewards program feature Wednesday called Extras, which allows members to access extra points and receive free Chipotle items faster. As part of the rollout, Chipotle Rewards members can get double points on a purchase through Sept. 3.
- Extras "gamifies Chipotle Rewards with personalized challenges to earn extra points and collect achievement badges," per the company announcement. Chipotle claims it is the first major restaurant brand to launch badges as part of a loyalty program.
- Chipotle's rewards program, which has 24 million members, has helped the chain drive more than $2 billion in digital sales in 2021. This program enhancement comes as rival QSRs and fast casuals, including McDonald's, debut loyalty programs for the first time.
As diner familiarity with digital ordering and restaurant branded mobile apps grows, so do expectations for what loyalty programs offer.
Chipotle is expanding its rewards beyond food, including free guacamole and drinks, to include branded apparel and the opportunity to support the chain's nonprofit partners, such as The Farmlink Project and The National Urban League. This could be a savvy way for the fast casual giant to differentiate from rivals' food-focused programs, further establish itself as a lifestyle brand and challenge outside rewards programs that already offer merchandise and other non-food perks.
"Offering new ways to engage with Chipotle is essential to the ongoing evolution of our digital business," Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer, said in a company release.
Chipotle Rewards members can access Extras on both the chain's mobile app and website, and earn 10 points for every $1 spent in a Chipotle restaurant, online or via its app. Comparatively, McDonald's rewards members earn 100 points per every dollar spent, and Taco Bell loyalty members also earn 10 points per every $1 spent.
Chipotle Rewards members also gain early access to new menu items and merchandise. The addition of badges could heighten this sense of exclusivity and encourage users to engage with the brand more frequently, which would boost the chain's digital business.
"We believe our digital sales mix will moderate as capacity restrictions ease and guests feel more comfortable physically ordering and dining in our restaurants," Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol said in late July. "However, we expect absolute digital sales dollars to find a new equilibrium in 2021 and grow from there. We're encouraged to see that so far in July, we continued to hold on to these digital gains even as in-store recovery has strengthened."