Have you ever stood in the long line at Chipotle, breathing in the smell of freshly cooked meats and fajita veggies, as you eagerly await your chance to order? Maybe you discussed with a friend whether you planned to order a bowl, burrito, tacos or a salad, and which of the colorful ingredients you would add to your personalized meal. If you have done this, then you are a part of the incredibly successful word-of-mouth marketing web of Chipotle.
Chipotle, the simple, fast-casual restaurant chain has experienced explosive growth over the last ten years. The company’s annual advertising budget has remained under $10 million, while Chipotle has outperformed the fast food giants that drop hundreds of millions on ads.
In its annual report, Chipotle describes how the focus of its marketing strategy is on consumer experience:
“[Our collective efforts] have helped us create considerable word-of-mouth publicity, with our customers learning about us and telling others, allowing us to build awareness with relatively low advertising expenditures, even in a competitive category, and to differentiate Chipotle as a company that is committed to doing the right things in every facet of our business.” [Source]
Chipotle has achieved phenomenal publicity from its consumers up, with a few crucial ingredients:
- Identifying young adults as the target market segment and crafting the image and culture of Chipotle around millenials’ values and dining preferences.
- Offering an outstanding product that motivates consumers to share their positive experience and recommend the brand to peers.
- Acknowledging evolving media, and focusing on modern marketing channels such as mobile and social, which have been more effective in reaching Chipotle’s target demographic.
Next time you find yourself recommending Chipotle to a friend, remember that its marketers owe you a ‘thank you’. Maybe on your next burrito the guacamole won’t cost extra.