Brief description of the plunge:

Chipotle is launching a racing video game to celebrate a new update to its loyalty program, according to a company press release. The update is called Rewards Exchange and gives Chipotle Rewards members more opportunities to spend their loyalty points.

The “Chipotle Race to Reward Exchange” game is a farm-style map where players can race and avoid obstacles to win game points that are different from loyalty points. Lo-fi style gameplay gives racers the option to use an electric car, electric bike or electric skateboard, all of which are real prizes that will be awarded to select winners. Players will be able to access the game via desktop computers and mobile devices.

The video game will run for 48 hours, from June 23-25, and will be available through the brand’s microsite. With this interactive promotion, Chipotle hopes to increase interest in its loyalty program, which is key to the growth of the brand‘s digital customer base.

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Dive Insight:

Chipotle’s latest digital initiative uses gamification to engage customers who are already members of the Chipotle Rewards loyalty program, while also inviting non-members to join, as the program begins a significant update. While Chipotle Rewards points, which are awarded for food purchases, used to go exclusively toward meals, members can now redeem points for more than fifteen different options, including food, beverages and merchandise, thanks to the Rewards Exchange program. Members can also redeem points for support from nonprofit partner Chipotle.

To promote the idea that participants can get these rewards quickly, Chipotle has launched a racing game. The game’s gameplay mirrors aspects of popular racing games, such as the ability to choose from multiple vehicles, the presence of obstacles designed to confuse racers, and the accumulation of game points as an incentive to succeed. These features are aimed in particular at the Generation Z and Millennial audiences, as they are more likely to be gamers and make up half of Chipotle’s customer base. A special nod to millennials is the “lo-fi” style graphics, reminiscent of games of this cohort’s past.

Prizes further encourage customers to play. Up to the first 500,000 players who pass two Chipotle restaurants in the game during both days of the race will receive 250 loyalty points, the equivalent of a free bag of chips, according to the release. The grand prize is a 2021 Tesla Model 3 car, which will be awarded to the top participant at the end of the race. Players in second through fourth place will receive an electric bicycle, and those in fifth through tenth places will receive an electric skateboard. These eco-friendly gifts match the vehicles chosen in the video game and are in line with Chipotle’s sustainability efforts.

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The chain’s loyalty program has been key to its successful marketing, allowing for more sophisticated messaging, which may explain the brand’s commitment to continuing to grow its user base. The Chipotle Rewards program was launched in March 2019 and had 8 million members by the end of the year. The program now has nearly 23 million members, the release said.

In the looming “post-Cookie” world, in which first-party data will be essential for targeted advertising, loyalty programs like Chipotle’s can serve an increasingly important purpose. Such databases give brands direct information about their users, which is often collected through microsites, as in the case of the Chipotle Race for Rewards Exchange. As a result, numerous other chains have recently launched their own loyalty programs, including Popeyes, McDonald’s and Taco Bell.

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