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Burger King, Chili’s deliver cash rewards with Ibotta app to drive loyalty

November 13, 2013

Burger King's Ibotta deal

Burger King, Chili’s and Smashburger are the first three restaurants to leverage the Ibotta mobile application to let consumers earn cash rewards in an effort to drive repeat visits and loyalty.

The Ibotta app first rolled out for grocery stores a year ago and has since surpassed 1.8 million users. The app lets consumers complete tasks, such as watching a video, taking a poll or “Liking” a page on Facebook, to earn cash while purchasing select items at certain grocery stores, and now restaurants as well.

“[Ibotta is] meant to give people one location to be rewarded for their shopping,” said  Bryan Leach, CEO of Ibotta, Denver, CO. “There are individual retailer applications which are not actually very widely used in the restaurant sector, there’s a lot of fragmentation in the restaurant business.

“By having a single app that can be used in multiple locations you can position the product as something that people will use because they don’t have to download multiple apps, but even more exciting is the ability to build loyalty,” he said.

“We do not believe in coupons. We think the interesting thing to do with mobile technology is to educate people on what is on your menu and get them to come back in the future even when there’s not a discount.”

Building loyalty
There are fifteen different types of brand engagement or pre-shopping media interactions on Ibotta, including Twitter posts, videos, recipes, polls and trivia.

Grocery stores and restaurants can pick the type of engagement they prefer and then decide on what related offer they will include.

For example, Smashburger and Chili’s are offering an item-specific deal, so they will spotlight a salad or a meal combination.

Burger King, on the other hand, is offering a spend-and-earn deal that lets consumers earn $1 after spending $6 at Burger King. Once a consumer earns that deal, he or she will be able to spend $8 to earn $2, and so on.

Besides adding restaurants to the app, Ibotta also added new ways to cash out. In addition to being able to cash out to a PayPal account, consumers can convert their earnings to a gift card for places such as Starbucks, iTunes or RedBox.
Chili’s Ibotta deal

Knowing your customer
Ibotta also leverages geofencing and push notifications to make consumers aware of deals at nearby grocery stores and restaurants.

The company has 80,000 geofences set up in the United States and can prompt a consumer within a certain radius of a Burger King location, for example. This helps drive impulse purchases as well as deciding where to go for lunch or dinner.

Additionally, Ibotta’s platform provides grocery stores and restaurants with valuable information about the consumers that are redeeming deals.

It can determine age, gender, ZIP code and even how many friends they have on Facebook or the duration of their stay in a restaurant.

“All of that profile has never really existed because restaurants do not have developed loyalty programs as you would see at Safeway, let’s say,” Mr. Leach said. “That data is really exciting.

“We believe that the days of buying television ads and online banner ads and paying per spot or click is coming to an end,” he said.

“We believe that you should be able to measure which forms of media drive an in-store purchase, and unless you can measure it end-to-end you shouldn’t pay for it. And that’s completely radical in the restaurant business and we think it has a chance to really shake things up.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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