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Chipotle Rewards: Loyalty Program Strategies for Food and Beverage

The fastest way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, right? So it’s no surprise that brands in the food and beverage industry are going gourmet with next-level customer loyalty programs, like Chipotle Rewards – something that fills your pocket and belly at the same time.

Consumers love rewards but most programs aren’t up to snuff. Brands that are on the top of the food chain have designed their loyalty programs with high levels of convenience, engagement and longevity in mind.

Such programs succeed by reinforcing brand loyalty with frequent customers through exclusive discounts, VIP access to products, preferential treatments, and more. Let’s grab a seat at the table with four companies that are serving up exceptional loyalty programs for their customers. Bon appétit!

1. Starbucks Rewards: Showering Customers With Stars

One of the most influential and well-known loyalty programs in the food and beverage industry, Starbucks Rewards, boasts nearly 17 million users. And for good reason: the coffee giant made sure that engaging with the program is fun, convenient and provides a unique experience.

  • Participants earn 2stars for every $1 spent using either the mobile app or registered gift card.
  • There are five different reward categories, each granting a freebie depending the stars spent.
  • For 25 stars you get an extra shot syrup, while 50 stars will earn you a good ol’ cup of coffee or a baked good.
  • On the top of the pyramid is the 400-stars offer, with an enticing signature cup.
Starbucks loyalty program

Starbucks Rewards plays on people’s desire to receive a freebie with their order. The concept is further elevated with a hint of personalisation, as customers can choose between several food and drink variations on offer in each gift bracket.

The reason this loyalty program feels so rewarding is that customers can earn stars at a satisfying pace. Regular purchases are worth even more during Double Star Days and seasonal events, for instance. Plus, members receive further stars for engaging with the app.

However, Starbucks faced a bit of an uproar from the community when introducing the latest iteration of the program. It raised the base price of a popular offer from 125 stars to 150, and people felt that they were forced to pay more for the same value.

2. Chipotle Rewards: Free Treats on Milestones

To reward customers in a fresh way, Chipotle ditched the traditional punch card in favour of a fully mobile experience called Chipotle Rewards.

  • By using the dedicated app, members of Chipotle Rewards can easily reorder their favourite Mexican dish and earn loyalty points.
  • The company rewards in-person orders, too. Scanning a receipt credits the same amount of points as an online purchase.
  • The exchange ratio for the loyalty currency: users earn 10 points on their virtual card per $1 spent.
  • Every time a customer reaches the 1250 point milestone, they’re eligible for a free meal. Then the cycle starts anew.

But to spice things up a little, Chipotle fans can earn 50% more points during promotional events, or receive 100 bonus points for ordering something different — remember, the mobile app keeps track of the customer’s orders. The restaurant chain even gives customers bonus points for their birthday. And you know you’re dealing with a true brand loyalist if they find time on their birthday to stop by your restaurant!

There’s just one downside to Chipotle Rewards, though: it takes 1-2 days for the system to add the points to your account. This is a necessary evil, as the independent stores of large fast-food chains aren’t always linked together, and delaying the synchronisation of customer data prevents double-dipping. Still, loyalty programs are the most effective when they work in real time, and the technology for it is already available.

Chipotle Rewards loyalty program

By ordering in advance from the app, customers can also skip the line and pick up their meal immediately.

3. Beer Hawk: Maxing out loyalty tokens

The UK-based craft beer retailer has redesigned its loyalty program in an effort to provide customers with a truly omnichannel experience. Beer Hawk’s primary platform is its ecommerce store, but they also have two bars in London, so connecting the in-store and online experience makes perfect sense.

Members of the loyalty program—which is powered by Antavo—receive one Beer Token for every £1 spent. This applies to both online and offline purchases. Then the whole balance can be redeemed in one go, where each token is converted into a £0.05 discount.

There are two aspects that make Beer Hawk’s loyalty program stand out. First of all, it engages members outside of the buying cycle, giving them the option to earn points for rating beers, referring a friend, and returning their draft kegs.  

Secondly, member accounts are updated instantly. Bartenders can scan each user’s unique mobile pass ID when they go to the bar for a drink, and that customer’s account is immediately updated with the correct amount of tokens based on their purchase. The system is like a perpetual motion machine, where you can keep earning and spending points throughout the evening.

BeerHawk loyalty program

Unlike in Chipotle Rewards, members of Beer Hawk’s loyalty program receive their tokens instantly, thanks to a combination of mobile loyalty cards and EPOS technology.

4. Chick-fil-A One: Tiers & Experiential Rewards

As the originator of the classic, pickle-filled chicken sandwich, Chick-fil-A needed a loyalty program to match its image. It pretty much sums up all the neat little features we listed above: loyalty points that can be exchanged for free meals, birthday rewards, and an app that handles both orders and the loyalty currency.

However, Chick-fil-A One goes even further by implementing some truly next-gen loyalty program elements. The most notable is their tier system: by default, customers earn 10 points per dollar spent, but once a customer hits the annual quota of 1,000 points, they become eligible for the Silver Membership tier.

Chick-Fil-A loyalty program

The fact that Chick-fil-A increases the amount of points you receive per dollar means it takes less time for higher level members to earn a free meal.

Silver members get 11 points per dollar spent, plus they have access to extra perks, such as gifting their free meals to friends or family members. But the really good stuff is reserved for Red Members, which requires customers to earn 5,000 points per year.

Those who stuff themselves with enough chicken nuggets to earn this rank are granted insider access to up-and-coming menu items and exciting rewards, such as free entry to the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

The Last Bite

Loyalty programs are superb assets for food industry leaders who want to drive repeat purchase and increase advocacy. If you’re interested in how Antavo can help you create a loyalty program custom-tailored to your brand’s identity, then contact us right now, or check out one of our case studies.

Timi Garai
Timi Garai
Timi is a Senior Loyalty Strategist at Antavo Loyalty Management Platform. Over the years she has researched and helped to build the loyalty strategies at top retailers and B2C brands. Fun fact: in her free time, Timi blogs about the manga and animé subculture.