Chipotle has a new plan to attract customers—paying them. From March 12-15, the restaurant Venmoed out dollar amounts ranging from $1 to $500 to up to 25,000 people per day. All users had to do was sign up for the company’s rewards program in order to receive their free lunch money.
Though the move might seem to reek of desperation, here’s how it could actually be in good taste.
If there’s one thing Chipotle has proven itself to be, it’s bold. Before the burrito brand launched its rewards program, it went through a series of dramatic digital ups and downs. For example, Chipotle experimented with two opposing recipes for success in delivery: partnering with Doordash, as observed in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Restaurants, and taking delivery into its own hands. Amidst several unsavory scandals about its ingredients, Chipotle opted for a fresh start with its “lifestyle bowls“. For a new dash of digital creativity, the brand even went so far as to poach rival Taco Bell’s CEO. In this sense, paying its customers to buy Chipotle might not be as wild as it would be for another brand.
But audacity alone isn’t enough to capture consumers. With its latest promotion, Chipotle could catch a few wandering eyes—literally—thanks to the quickly evolving social nature of Venmo. As Venmo users scroll through their feeds and see their friends receiving money from Chipotle, marked by a custom pepper emoji and sign-up link in the memo section, they might wonder what’s going on and click through. And based on the platform’s burgeoning popularity, it’s not hard to see why the opportunity for eyeballs via Venmo is a particularly enticing one for a brand like Chipotle.