Authenticity Sells: How Chipotle Turns Openness Into Profits
Steve Ells, founder and CEO of Chipotle restaurants, wants you to know something that most fast food companies try desperately to hide: where their food comes from.
See for yourself in the above video, where he talks openly about "food with integrity" on national TV while standing amidst the very pigs that will some day become carnitas burritos at his restaurants. (Can't see the video? Click here.)
If that weren't enough, he went so far as to endorse Food, Inc., a documentary about the sorry state of industrialized food production in the United States. (You can even find coupons for $2 off the price of the DVD at your local Chipotle restaurant.)
This guy is serious. But is it good for business?
So why does informing people about where their food comes from work for Chipotle?
The main reason, I think, is authenticity.
The marketing strategy here is simple but effective: set high customer expectations and then exceed them.
How many times have you been disappointed by a crappy product or tricked by a bait-and-switch promotion? Several, I'm willing to guess.
After decades of being bamboozled by old-school marketing tactics (hello airlines!), we are starving for good products and honest companies.
Chipotle's tactic for dealing with this is simple: make exceptional Mexican food by sourcing the best ingredients they can find and then tell you about it, which holds them accountable. That translates into authenticity.
Is Ells the real deal? It's impossible to know from the outside, but there seems to be no conflict between what customers' experience and what the company is saying. At least if you like their food.
In my opinion, Chipotles gets it: brands must deliver on what they promise because today's consumers are savvy enough to know when they are being lied to and connected enough to expose those brands on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
That should scare most any company into being authentic.
How do you use Authenticity? What other companies use it? Leave a comment or email "blog at keithmonaghan dot com."