Chipotle, the quick-service restaurant chain, enhanced its media spend and cut back on promotions as its successfully reasserted its brand values following an extended crisis.

Chris Brandt, CMO of Chipotle – and who joined the company in April 2018 as part of a wider management makeover – discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2019 Masters of Marketing Conference.

And, he reported, one element of Chipotle’s response after a slate of food-safety issues, as well as a data breach, was to re-evaluate its marketing investments.

“Until 2018, we had been very decentralised, focused heavily on promotions and couponing,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How Chipotle bounced back from a brand crisis.)

“It was costing the company millions of dollars and was not driving any business. So, our new team immediately slashed discounting and centralised marketing to drastically cut a ton of promotions that weren’t bringing in any traffic.”

Having reduced this inefficient spending, Chipotle saw an opportunity to put these resources to effective use in rebuilding its brand equity.

“We used that money to increase our media spend to drive more awareness. We moved our headquarters, which gave us the chance to reset their brand,” Brandt said.

And the marketing team actively set about identifying potential assets to change the perception of the Chipotle culture. “We really wanted to show up with places where you don’t expect brands like ours to appear,” Brandt said.

A Times Square billboard was one example, but its efforts reached much further. And nowhere was that change more evident than among health-conscious young consumers. Indeed, Brandt noted, half of Chipotle’s consumers are millennials or part of Gen Z.

That demographic understanding pointed to new messaging on new platforms. “Millennials are super-engaged in digital” and, in reaching this cohort at the proverbial right-time/right-place combination, “we fully embraced digital”.

Sourced from WARC