App Games - Coin Drop from Taco Bell drives Loyalty and Engagement

Published: July 11, 2023

min read

Taco Bell has brought its Coin Drop Game back, but in a digital format.

The Coin Drop game was a popular counter-top game from the aughts (2000 to 2010) where a customer could drop a coin into a water-filled contraption and then spin it to see if they won a free item from the menu.

But this time around, the game is digital and can be played on Taco Bell’s mobile app. It has a retro feel that is inspired by the chain’s restaurant designs from the decade. Taco Bell Rewards members who round off their tabs to the nearest dollar will get a digital “coin” that they need to try and land on the lowest pink paddle to win one of three items – cinnamon twists, a crunchy taco or a bean burrito. They will also get 10 bonus loyalty points which will go towards their next reward. Also, customers can request a coin online without buying anything or rounding off their tabs. All the rounded off amounts will go to the Taco Bell Foundation which gives out grants, scholarships and other educational experiences.

This game offers fans a new way to win and give back, all at their fingertips with the Taco Bell app. Many of our fans have fond memories of playing the original Coin Drop at their local Taco Bell – so it only made sense that we bring the game back for our Rewards members to transport customers back in time and give them another shot at winning.

Dane Mathews,

Chief Digital Officer at Taco Bell

Taco Bell has said that Coin Drop generated more than $41 million from 2003 to 2016 which was used to fund Live Más Scholarships and community grants. It was in 2019, that the Taco Bell Foundation launched Round Up – a fund raising effort at the point of sale where customers could donate to the Taco Bell Foundation by rounding off their tabs to the nearest dollar. In 2023 so far, the Foundation has raised over $20 million in Round Up donations. They plan to raise $40 million this year through the Coin Drop game.

Coin Drop is truly a win-win for everyone involved, customers can win fun prizes while knowing they are giving back to a great cause.

Jennifer Bradbury,

Executive Director of the Taco Bell Foundation

Taco Bell has partnered with CataBoom, the gamification platform to develop the digital version of Coin Drop.

Nostalgia, Games and Loyalty

Taco Bell is doing many things by bringing the Coin Drop game back.

On one level, it taps into nostalgia – who doesn’t remember the counter top coin drop game from the early 2000s where everyone played to get a free item from off the menu! Tapping into nostalgia, is a great way for brands to take its customers back to a seemingly far happier and simpler time. More so, post pandemic! So the excitement of bringing it all back is enough to get customers jump in on the game, and play. Nostalgia is a huge draw for customers who would love to step back in time and play a game that they enjoyed back in the day.

The game is a nice way to keep existing customers engaged. Games are always a great way to get people involved and engaged. When people play games they feel good with all the release of dopamine and endorphins. The competitive layer where they are made to do something to win a reward is a huge draw. Whether we are competing with ourselves or with others, the idea of competition gets people all excited and engaged. And when a chance to win something is thrown in the mix, it simply ups the whole experience where you reward the brain each time something is achieved. It encourages rewards-seeking behavior.

To encourage loyalty program sign-ups, a brand needs to be attractive. Brands must be appealing enough for customers to sign up for their loyalty program and to also stick with it once they’ve signed up. For that, brands need an edge – an extra something that is a little different. Gamification in loyalty programs can deliver that. It makes a brand attractive enough to stand out from the others as something unique and different and draws people to sign up.

But the bottom line is that it needs to do that – stand out as something unique and interesting and as something that draws people to it. Taco Bell seems to be making the right moves – the excitement is so palpable, you could almost hear a coin drop!


Grace Wang

Grace is an advertising professional who keeps abreast of the latest and greatest in the marketing and advertising space. She is a traditionalist in lifestyle and modernist in her profession. Outside of marketing and advertising, she helps younger generation try and adapt traditional lifestyle for a healthy living.


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