El Pollo Loco officially launched a reworked app and tier-based rewards program Tuesday, the company wrote in an email to Restaurant Dive. Each tier will offer three rewards options customers can choose from, and the points customers earn per dollar spent increase with each level, said Gabe Alonso, El Pollo Loco VP of digital marketing.
The revamped rewards program is El Pollo Loco’s first major update to the program since it launched five years ago, when it was a 1:1 points system with a $10 reward for 100 points.
“We change our menus every eight to 10 weeks with new products,” Alonso said. “And so similarly, we wanted to make sure the rewards program and the app felt fresh.”
El Pollo Loco joins several other chains, including Whataburger, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, Dunkin’, Noodles & Company and Panera, that have adjusted their rewards programs in the last few months.
The app and loyalty changes are part of a larger digital transformation in the works at El Pollo Loco. The revamp for the program began in 2021 under CMO Andy Rebhun. When Alonso joined the brand in July, his main focus was working closely on the redesign with El Pollo Loco’s design and development partner, Bounteous, and its loyalty partner, Punchh.
With these updates, El Pollo Loco wanted to create more opportunities for member engagement as well as a seamless and easy purchasing experience on its app. El Pollo Loco reviewed other programs, like apps at McDonald’s, Starbucks and Chipotle, and did its due diligence to figure out what it would need to measure up and bring in younger Gen Z and millennial consumers, Alonso said.
El Pollo Loco’s loyalty program point structure
As part of the loyalty program, all members will receive 48-hours early access to limited-time offers. Additionally, customers will receive weekly personalized offers based on purchasing and behavior history. The company is working with Wisely as its customer data partner and Movable Inc. as a dynamic content partner to see what other opportunities it has to make members feel as though El Pollo Loco knows what they want and who they are, Alonso said.
Changes to the app include a new color scheme and a more dynamic home screen that displays spendable points, current tier status and available offers. The old app had a lot of primary colors, like blues and reds, while the new app is mainly black and white with pops of color that allow for the pictures of the food to stand out, Alonso said.
One of the biggest hangups for existing customers was that El Pollo Loco’s old app felt clunky and confusing, Alonso said. Customers can now complete orders in fewer clicks, and can view favorites and reorder more seamlessly, he said.
The novelty of the program could draw back latent customers, especially with a new creative agency, Organic, that is helping shift the look of the communications and ads the brand is bringing into the loyalty program.
“That alone to me is eye-catching enough. It shows newness, that we’re evolving [and] that there’s something to pay attention to,” Alonso said.
To promote the update, El Pollo Loco is offering a buy-one-get-one deal for National Burrito Day on Thursday as part of a month-long celebration leading up to Cinco de Mayo, which will include other offers and experiences, Alonso said. The company will also offer a free Original Pollo Bowl with purchase to new customers who sign up for the loyalty program to redeem within 14 days. During the next four weeks, one member a day will be chosen at random to become a Pollo Millionaire and receive 1 million points.
The company is already working on subsequent releases and updates to make sure it maintains a high quality experience. Eventually, El Pollo Loco wants to figure out how to make the app a brand experience tool that will help set it apart from the rest of the QSR industry.
“We’re just getting started,” Alonso said. “Our roadmap is already starting to get very filled with new and exciting things that we want to bring to the table, to bring to our communities closer, our communities to work together [and] really inject a sense of familia into the program as a whole.”