Industry News | June 30, 2016 | QSR Exclusive Brief

Will 2 New Initiatives from Chipotle Win Customers Back?

Chipotle announced two big moves in its ongoing quest to regain customers after food-safety scares late last year stalled the fast casual’s explosive growth.

This week, the Denver-based burrito chain announced a new loyalty rewards program, as well as the addition of chorizo in select restaurants.

The new rewards program, called Chiptopia Summer Rewards, will run for three months starting July 1 and will reward customers for multiple Chipotle visits in the same month. During each month of the program, a customer’s fourth (Mild status), eighth (Medium), and 11th (Hot) visit and entrée purchase triggers a reward for one free entrée and elevates the customer to a new status level.

“We created Chiptopia to reward our most loyal customers who continue to support our efforts to cultivate a better world,” says Mark Crumpacker, chief creative and development officer at Chipotle. “While Chiptopia Summer Rewards lasts just three months, we will be carefully listening to our customers and using what we learn as we consider the design of an ongoing rewards program.”

The rewards program, which requires a Chiptopia card that customers can pick up at any location, comes just months after Chipotle gave away millions of free burritos through mailers and redeemable codes.

Chipotle also announced a rare menu addition: chorizo. The spicy chicken and pork sausage will be available in Columbus, Ohio; New York City; Sacramento, California; and San Diego locations until the fall, when the company expects it to be available nationwide.

The chorizo is made with a blend of pork and white-meat chicken and is seasoned with paprika, toasted cumin, and chipotle peppers. It is cooked in each restaurant by searing it on a hot grill.

“Since we opened the first Chipotle 23 years ago, our menu has changed very little, and our focus has been on constantly improving the quality and taste of the food we serve,” said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle. “While we have never been opposed to changing our menu, we only do so when we think there’s an opportunity to add something that is really unique but that fits within our overall menu, and where we can find ingredients that meet our high standards.”

Last fall, Chipotle suffered from multiple cases of E. coli and norovirus that sickened hundreds of customers across the country. The food-safety scare severely affected the fast casual’s traffic; comparable sales were down 29.7 percent for 2016’s first quarter


so I never heard what they found out what the cause ? Do you know?

all of those customers in St Louis could come to Balentine's Restaurant & Bar and have a great time. 1801 Park Avenue St Louis, MO 63104

If Chipotle wants to bring customers back, I suggest they do more about keeping them safe. I had lunch at Chipotle in Torrance CA Monday and was violently ill for hours. Thought you guys had cleaned up things?

Is Chipotle's Tofu product certified by the American Vegetarian Association(AVA)?
Are their restaurants AVA Recommended?

I have been back since the scare and did not notice any overt change, food was still served "luke-warm", it's never "HOT", am sure it is below 140 degrees when served. Service remains the same, in other words you are treated to luke warm service in addition to the food. They really need to step up their game to draw back their customer base, its basically same ol, same ol Chipotle.

They may be working on food safety but their quality of late (at multiple locations) have been terrible. Undercooked rice, wrong meat on orders, guacamole is inconsistent. I used to be such a huge fan and regular customer. Now I've sworn off them due to their lack of consistency!

My wife and I loved Chipoltle before the health issues, we were twice a weekers.
Then multiple people getting violently sick? Then more people getting sick?
What has been the resolution? I hear some babble about internal meetings... of course.
Well after six months away we gave in hoping that all of the publicity would have worked.
Summary -- luke warm food, vegetables way overcooked they were slimy!, chicken was grisly, lettuce was soaking wet. Service -- uninspired young people, five of them, rushing us through the line ( we were the only people in line). The metal table tops were still streaked with dirty rag marks from an attempt to clean them and of course when i pulled out the chair there was misc. remnants of food welcoming us back to Chiplote. A nice young lady from cash register came by while we were packing up to leave and asked us how we liked everything -- I told her about the chicken and the the unedible veggies and she politely said " I am sorry" that's it. No other action. Well we regret going back for our $19.97 lunch -- that used to be $17.75 before the problem. Lots of things wrong in the food system and training. We hoped for improvement.

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