The Redemption of Chipotle: Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year
Chipotle Fever was sweeping the nation. No, literally.
Outbreaks of people getting sick from their favorite restaurant started in October. The resulting negative publicity took Chipotle stock from $718.64 on the day of the first e coli outbreak (Oct 19.) into a downward spiral which bottomed out at $404.26 (Jan. 12), losing shareholders about 9.55 billion dollars. This is roughly $63,714,346.67 for each of the 150 people that got sick. And you thought your sick day was going to cost you.
But, the story isn’t over.
We as a country love a comeback story. You’ve got a Chipotle running up stairs and boxing e coli free meat to win us back. And it’s working…
Free Burritos nudged Chipotle towards an upward inflection. It sounded too good to be not a scam generated by some Internet troll, but it wasn’t. Butts started to sit on new Industrial themed chairs once again. This was my first time going back into a Chipotle, and I’ve been going back regularly since. This free burrito incentivized us past our e-coli hesitations and biological fears, and it worked.
Chipotle offered free guac to those who play their Guac Hunter game. Reminiscent of the I-Spy days growing up, the challenge is to spot differences in pictures in Chipotle meal settings with fun facts about avocados.
There is also this creepy picture that probably came off the walls of the Amityville Horror. They decided to go American Horror Story on your subconscious for some reason.
This challenge is the sign of a very talented marketing team.
- I-Spy challenge: BOOM! Hit Millennials in their childhood soft spots and we will give you money.
- Games: We might as well have some fun on a MONDAY.
- Win our Brain: Making us stare at closeups of your food turns our subconscious rogue. Get out of my head. I’m hungry.
- Give-away: Give me free $1.80 Guac to get me to buy a $7.00+ burrito.
- Shareability: I’ve been sharing fun flash-games since I was in middle school. Viral factor is high with this one.
Chipotle’s success is mostly due to its power as a social trend.
Chipotle is right on the forefront of the cusp of society moving towards healthy eating. Millennials are the catalyst for change in today’s society, and Chipotle knows this very well. Say “Chipotle Sucks” on a college campus and try not to get buried to your head in sand and pelted with rocks.
Any brand that listens to it’s customers and shows an authentic and genuine effort to win back it’s core fans is cool with me. These types of marketing campaigns that are inherently duplicitous yet come off as playful are extremely difficult to pull off. Chipotle is going to be spending over $70 million on free burritos in the following weeks. This, combined with their marketing is going to take Chipotle far. Keep your eye on their stock.
Full Disclosure: I’m a huge fan of the Chipotle brand. However, too many 3/4 scoops of chicken have made me indifferent to the food.
About the author: Alex Moskov is a serial entrepreneur and cereal destroyer. He is a self-improvement junkie and a master of self deprecating humor. He is also very humble. More humble than you are. Probably in the Top 5 Humble People Under 30 in the game right now. In his arsenal of skills and interests, he also writes. And it’s not always in third person describing himself. Like this.