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Chipotle spices up sales with mobile delivery for college students

Chipotle Mexican Grill is taking the recent mobile ordering blitz one step further by identifying a potentially lucrative target audience of college students, prompting the brand to team up with the Tapingo application for quick mobile delivery to campuses nationwide.

Chipotle is boosting its existing ordering strategy by effectively segmenting consumers by pinpointing a wide audience that has been proven to favor delivery options as well as strong usage of mobile devices. Through the integration with the Tapingo app, college students at 40 campuses this fall will be able to place and pay for orders on their smartphones without an additional transaction fee.

“We believe the student market is one of the most attractive markets and has always been a priority demographic for us,” said Daniel Almog, CEO of Tapingo, San Francisco. “Students are active, tech-savvy users whose needs are evolving.

“We’ve seen users respond positively when we combine our technology and convenience with a strongly sought-after brand like Chipotle.”

The right ingredients
Offering mobile delivery for college students is a smart move on Chipotle’s part, and one that could yield plenty of opportunities for increased revenue. As many universities do not allow freshmen to have cars on campus, Chipotle and Tapingo will be able to reach a plethora of consumers who otherwise may not be able to visit a bricks-and-mortar location to get their fix of burritos.

Chipotle also hopes to provide students with more time to study and socialize by rolling out the Tapingo app integration. Tapingo claims to have a growing fan base of millennials and younger, mobile-savvy users, with whom Chipotle is also a favorite brand.

Customers using Tapingo may place an order with the tap of a finger and have their food delivered to their location in a timely manner. The average user’s fee comes in at $2.99, and does not tack on an extra service fee.

The time between order and receipt is typically 25 minutes.

While a slew of fast food chains have begun rolling out mobile order and pay options, Chipotle may set itself apart from the group by segmenting a valuable customer base. A recent food survey done by investment firm William Blair tapped Chipotle as younger consumers’ most favored restaurant.

Furthermore, millennials have been found to be more likely to eat out on a weekly basis than their older counterparts, providing an optimal opportunity to make dining even easier for these consumers.

Additionally, Tapingo has realized the necessity of offering a “buy button” on mobile to college students seeking to order quick snacks or meals. Chipotle’s sheer popularity with customers in this age demographic, complemented by the fast food nature of its items, makes it an ideal brand to team up with for an integration.

This service may also help Chipotle undercut competition away from other fast food marketers, whose menu products may not be as readily accessible to college students, especially those without cars.

Chipotle ordering options within the Tapingo app will be available at 40 college campuses this fall and more than 100 by next spring. Currently, students at Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, University of Arizona, University of Southern California, Louisiana State University and California State University Chico can take advantage of the partnership.

This fall, delivery will expand to include campuses such as Columbia University, Carnegie Melon, Johns Hopkins, Rutgers and New York University.

Consumers may find a list of participating and planned location rollouts at

Augmenting previous delivery options
Chipotle teaming up with Tapingo adds another layer onto the fast food chain’s comprehensive mobile delivery solutions.

Chipotle has a nationwide partnership with fellow delivery app Postmates, which also counts brand partners such as Starbucks and McDonald’s. Additionally, consumers in smaller markets can use OrderUp to receive their favorite Chipotle meals.

The food marketer has been ramping up its mobile focus this year to include stronger efforts on incorporating mobile payments as well as sweepstakes for smartphone users.

While a number of food and beverage chains have embraced mobile loyalty, a Chipotle executive said in July that the company will buck the trend and lean on mobile payments – not loyalty – as a way to gather meaningful insights about its customers (see story).

The brand also brought an educational twist to a new mobile-optimized game and sweepstakes that enabled entrants to receive a buy one, get one free offer redeemable only on smartphones (see story).

“Tapingo has a loyal customer base that ‘Tapingos’ (college-speak for uses Tapingo) as a daily habit,” Mr. Almog said. “We know that our students are generally huge Chipotle fans already.

“We’re confident that giving them enhanced access to a brand they love on an everyday basis will strengthen their relationship with both Chipotle and Tapingo.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York