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PwC and Chipotle Grow Customers' Love with a Loyalty Rewards Program

PwC’s Business, eXperience and Technology philosophy gives Chipotle a different viewpoint

Chipotle, is a casual Mexican food chain serving up burritos, tacos and other fresh specialties. A pioneer of the fast-casual style, it served its first meal in 1993 in Colorado. Chipotle is committed to making its food more accessible to everyone while continuing to be a brand with a demonstrated purpose. And it wants to do that while it’s leading the way in digital, technology and sustainable business practices. 

To better understand and reinforce its customer relationships, Chipotle piloted a 90-day loyalty promotion in 2016. Chipotle found its customers were more loyal than expected, but there was nothing more that promotion could do; the program was not integrated with other digital channels like a mobile app or website experience. The company had investment gaps in how it had dealt with its customer data platform, promotion engine, and customer account creation in general. The loyalty opportunity, these processes and supporting IT were the focus of a new project with PwC.

Chipotle had three goals:

  • To create a stronger bond with its customers
  • To understand their customers better
  • To drive additional revenue from loyal customers

"We went beyond traditional loyalty program design, focusing on what the product would mean to Chipotle, its customers, employees, and its brand. Through our BXT approach we helped Chipotle from strategy through execution by partnering to design, test and launch a new loyalty platform within 18 months, across 2,500 stores."

Jon Glick Partner, Loyalty Centre of Excellence Leader, PwC US

The solution to this was an integrated customer loyalty rewards program.  In order to reward customers for continued patronage, Chipotle needed to be more integrated with the rest of the technology that they employed as well as complement and enhance the Chipotle experience.  To do this, they accelerated the introduction of a digital loyalty and rewards platform.  They placed the customer at the forefront and the program was digitally centred, easy to use and consistent with other customer activities.

Brian Niccol, Chipotle's CEO, has also set the tone for top-level engagement by participating in customer roundtables, examining wireframe diagrams for mobile applications, and visiting restaurants to see the loyalty program in action.  According to IDC, this kind of CEO engagement sets up digitally determined organisations to succeed.

PwC applied its Business eXperience and Technology (BXT) philosophy to come up with different views on how to implement the platform.  PwC’s BXT framework united fragmented viewpoints and got everyone to focus on a single purpose and solution – something that is more challenging when viewed through only one lens.  PwC’s role spanned strategy through execution and comprised about 10% of the overall project team.

PwC was able to provide strategic insight on challenges that Chipotle faced.  Commenting on PwC, Curt Garner, Chief Technology Officer for Chipotle, said: “They demonstrated a breadth of knowledge around retail and the types of opportunities and challenges that loyalty platforms and reward programs present.”

Customer acquisition, retention, and loyalty were the anticipated benefits of this project, and while the initial signs are positive, it is too soon to tell for sure.  Growing an affinity and love for Chipotle is the overall goal for the company. And the rewards program is just one platform they are using to do that.  Garner commented that: “PwC would say rewards programs are the types of things where you notice changes in behaviour over years. We’ve only been in the marketplace for five months, so it’s a little early for us to declare success across all metrics. But we’re certainly encouraged by what we’re seeing in the early days. And right now, it seems to be at the higher end of what we expected the impact to be."

By taking its time to ensure they got it right through a methodical approach and partnering with the right companies for support, Chipotle was able to successfully launch a loyalty and rewards program that resulted in a better relationship with its customers. The program improves the relationship between customers and Chipotle through digitalisation, better technologies, and a forward-looking strategy that places the customer at the centre while taking advantage of lessons learned from other companies and industries.

Source: IDC Customer Spotlight: PwC and Chipotle Grow Customers’ Love with a Loyalty Rewards Program – Sponsored by PwC. 

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Rob Donnelly

Global Lead, Analyst Relations, PwC United States

Tel: +1 (917) 471 3355