Qdoba updates loyalty program

Qdoba Mexican Grill said it has upgraded its loyalty program to give users more ways besides a loyalty card to earn and redeem points for free food.

The new platform allows Qdoba guests to link their purchases to a loyalty card, a keychain fob or a scannable sticker that can be placed on anything as small as a cell phone or a tube of lipstick. The rewards program also lets users store their points for a later time, as opposed to redeeming them automatically once a certain threshold is reached.

“Users can choose on the Qdoba Rewards website to bank their points and not have them redeemed automatically,” said Chris Bingel, marketing projects manager for Qdoba. “We saw that request a lot from our business guests who wanted more choices of personal occasions to use their points.”

The chain’s standard loyalty offer will remain in the new Qdoba Rewards platform, in which the purchase of each entrée earns 100 points, and customers may redeem 1,000 points for a free entrée. The new program also offers a free entrée on the user’s birthday and on the anniversary of the user’s online registration of the loyalty account.

Bingel cited internal research that showed 73 percent of users of the Qdoba Card, the chain’s previous loyalty rewards system, liked the program but wanted more flexibility. Another study, from loyalty-marketing industry network Colloquy, found that each U.S. household belongs to 14 loyalty programs on average.

Because consumers have loyalty cards or keychain fobs for everything from the grocery store and pet store to the nearest big-box bookseller, Bingel said it was important for Qdoba to be among the first restaurant companies to offer a similar program.

“Guests are bombarded with these and don’t have the space in their wallet or purse for everything,” Bingel said. “We wanted to give them the luxury of a keychain card, which had been highly requested from our current members, or a barcode sticker with an even smaller footprint for attaching to a wallet or phone. As far as being first, it goes back to learning from other retailers and adapting that technology and convenience they’ve brought to the table.”

Many of those loyalty programs from other retailers link the cards and account numbers to a user’s phone number, which can be entered at the cash register if the person forgets his or her card. For now, Qdoba’s program doesn’t include that functionality, which was a consideration for throughput at lunch and dinner rush periods, Bingel said.

“That was an operational decision,” he said. “Looking at the number of guests that file through the line during our lunch period, that could get tricky.”

Wheat Ridge, Colo.-based Qdoba is a wholly owned subsidiary of Jack in the Box Inc. and operates or franchises more than 500 restaurants.

Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected]