Chipotle to launch temporary loyalty program

FILE - This Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, file photo, shows the door at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Robinson Township, Pa. Chipotle says it is tightening its food safety standards after its restaurants were linked to dozens of cases of E. coli. The Mexican food chain says it hired IEH Laboratories in Seattle to help improve its system after reports in late October 2015 that linked E. coli cases to its restaurants in Oregon and Washington. Since then, additional cases have been reported in California, Minnesota New York, and Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Chipotle is introducing a temporary loyalty program intended to get customers back into its stores following a series of food scares.

The Mexican food chain already has given away millions of burritos through coupons for entrees to try to fill up empty locations after an E. coli outbreak and norovirus cases last year sent sales plunging.

In the first three months of this year, Chipotle’s sales at established locations were down about 30 percent.

On Monday, Chipotle said its “Chiptopia” loyalty program will reward people based on the number of times they visit each month, starting in July and running through September.

The program has three reward levels, with more visits translating to more free entrees and other benefits.

Generally, people can earn a free entree after their fourth, eighth and 11th visit within a month.

The company, which has about 2,000 locations, said it will gauge feedback in its consideration of an ongoing rewards program.

The decision marks a reversal of sorts. Before the food scares last year, Chipotle Chief Financial Officer Jack Hartung had said that the company had been able to build loyalty “through more organic methods,” such as by educating people about how its food is raised. He said that since Chipotle already had such loyal customers, traditional loyalty programs did not make financial sense for the company.

Chipotle has said its most loyal customers visit 25 times or more a year, which would be about two times a month.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s