To fix Chipotle Mexican Grill, newly appointed CEO Brian Niccol, back in early 2018, said the fast-casual chain had to solve its invisibility problem. Consumers wanted access to the brand, but Chipotle was inaccessible.
So, Niccol turned to his former colleagues at Taco Bell, who had since left the Yum Brands division, to make Chipotle visible through culture-driving campaigns. He tapped Chris Brandt as his chief marketing officer, who in turn, hired Tressie Lieberman as vice president of digital and off-premise. In less than two years, Lieberman has played a crucial role in building Chipotle’s digital presence through enticing delivery campaigns including multiple free delivery offers.
Still, Chipotle’s digital strategy is not just about one-and-done free delivery deals. Promotions are often tied to the chain’s app and serve guests in meaningful ways that keep them connected to the brand.
On National Burrito Day in 2019, for example, Chipotle gave customers free delivery on orders $10 or more. Liberman’s team could have stopped there. But instead she gave consumers a reason to pull out their phones by telling them they could buy a burrito endorsed by YouTube star and Chipotle super-fan David Dobrik. The Dobrik Burrito was available only online, and featured the celebrity’s go-to ingredients.
In January 2019, Chipotle created a line of “Lifestyle” bowls geared for diners following certain diet programs such as paleo, keto and Whole30. Like the Dobrik Burrito, the bowls were only available online.
At the end of summer, Chipotle launched free delivery on Sundays as part of a back-to-school promotion — a move made to endear the brand to an important demographic: students.
"We want to bring the entire Chipotle experience to your door or dorm,” Lieberman said at the time.
Other digital campaigns have no monetary value but are priceless when it comes to social media buzz.
In 2018, Chipotle launched branded stickers on the Giphy app, giving consumers an interactive way to show their love of Chipotle. Later, Chipotle turned these digital gifs into scratch and sniff stickers.
“As we continue to push the bounds on digital and social innovations, we're also seeing a demand to bring many of these digital experiences into 'real-life,' which is why we wanted to create these fun, real-life scratch and sniff stickers for our fans,” Lieberman said.
These culture-driving campaigns have led to soaring digital sales which grew nearly 88% during the brand’s latest quarter. As of December 2019, digital sales at Chipotle reached $1 billion.
Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @fastfoodmaven