Chipotle’s Marketing Strategy

Let us learn how Chipotle exactly used this marketing tool to reach a wider audience and how their brand earned respect and praise from their customers over the years.

Chipotle’s Extraordinary Word of Mouth Marketing 

Chipotle Mexican Grill is an American chain of a fast-casual restaurant specializing in tacos and Mission-style burritos. They are known for their very effective way of marketing their brand through word of mouth. 

1. High on Haikus 

Who would ever think that Haikus, a form of short Japanese poetry, can be used as a marketing tool to promote one’s product and brand? 

In 2015, Chipotle ran a contest on Twitter and Facebook for the top 20 best Haikus they could choose, with a reward of free dinner for two at Chipotle. Some might dismiss it as a ‘cheap’ reward for a big restaurant chain, but the real motive behind this contest is the full engagement of its customers (and soon-to-be-customers). 

The Reason Why It Is Effective: 

A simple contest would always appeal to the masses, and Chipotle knows it very well. And by launching its contest on where their audience spends most of their time, which are Twitter and Facebook, their contest would surely be a success. Also, it’s a smart way of pouring their resources into areas that would produce more beneficial results for their restaurant.Quality Content

These are the other three factors that pushed this contest into great success: 

  • Haikus promotes creativity, which is why people are more willing to participate, which enables them to show their creative side. 
  • Since the contest uses retweets, shares, and likes as its metrics, it encourages participants to ask support from their family, friends, loved ones, and colleagues. (And with it, they unknowingly but willingly spread ‘Chipotle’ brand awareness.)
  • It is a low commitment contest with high entertainment value, and this combination is what can make something viral in the realm of social media. 

Cinema Quality Content 2. Cinema Quality Content 



Nobody wants crap or half baked stuff – and so do Chipotle. With its video series called “Farmed and Dangerous,” it proves that an unbranded but high-quality content can push anyone’s brand high in the sky. 

Their video series is a satirical representation of the “evil” agriculture industry, which drives home its point effectively. These videos are notable for their high-quality contents, from filming to post-production, and its emphasis on quality can be clearly seen. They even use cameras that are only used for blockbuster Hollywood films! 

The Reason Why It Is Effective: 

Anyone appreciates something when it’s done with quality, effort, and sincerity, and it involves the story and message that the content beams into its audience. All these things can be clearly seen with Chipotle’s “Farmed and Dangerous” contents, and that’s the reason why it pushed the Chipotle brand even further (without being a ‘Chipotle-promoting content’ at all) 

3. The Convenience of their App 

Chipotle knows the importance of having their presence in the places where their audience spends most of their time – and it’s on their phones. A brand that is not on their target market’s phone is as good as dead. And that’s just the first layer of the game. The presence of an app in anyone’s phone is useless if it cannot bring great benefits for them. Chipotle is well aware of these things, so they created an app that brings these conveniences: 

  • It allows people to skip lines on Chipotle restaurants and make their orders before they even get there. 
  • It provides various payment functions 
  • It features a Store Finder 

The Reason Why It Is Effective: 

If you think that fast food can’t get any faster, wait till you see how Chipotle makes it faster. With a time-starved generation such as ours, it is our pleasure to be spoiled with more conveniences that can make fast processes to be even more faster. This generation so loves it, and that’s what Chipotle’s app exactly does. Just making your order before you step inside their restaurant sounds like a stuff from a science-fiction story, but it’s real, and a lot of people are praising its convenience. 

4. Chipotle Discusses An Important Issue 

Chipotle rolled out another high-quality content called “Back to Start,” which tells the story of a farmer who turned his sustainable and humane farm into an inhumane, industrialized, and a ‘cash cow’ farm. In the end, he regretted his decision and ‘flipped it over’ into its original state. 

The music, animation, and the message were so good that it was screened on 6,000 theatres around the country and gained 300 million PR impressions. To top it all, it won an award from the Cannes Grand Prix in the Branded Film Category. You won’t see a Cannes- awarded content every day because quality content are also a rare sight to see.  

The Reason Why It Is Effective: 

Inhumane farming is a sensitive issue that usually gets a ‘bipolar’ treatment: it either has too extreme or too bland representation. Chipotle’s “Back to Start” content hits the middle ground and represents the issue more clearly and more closely. 

It is something that people would be willing to entertain on their minds, with a not too negative tone and a not too bland and boring content. A lot of advocacies fail because they are stuck on these two poles, not realizing that it would actually drive their target audience away. 

Hitting the right notes, so to speak, turns people’s heads and attention and drives up their interest. A content that doesn’t push too hard is what really pulls people in – just like what Chipotle does. 

5. Chipotle Focuses on Delighting Their Staff — To Delight Its Customers

Chipotle is well known for its excellent customer service because they ensure that their staff also enjoys working in their restaurants. The delight of their staff is reflected back on the customers. 

Starting with customer satisfaction is what every fast-food chain does – while neglecting the satisfaction of their staff – not knowing that it will creep up to the surface, with their customers as its final victim. 

Chipotle knows how to manage its workforce properly, knowing very well that their customers are at the receiving end of this proper management. 

The Reason Why It Is Effective: 

A good working environment can generate millions of willing ambassadors of a brand. A happy and satisfied workforce would surely satisfy the customers they intended to serve. And satisfied customers can reflect back their satisfaction with the brand by being loyal customers and by recommending it to other people. 

6. Free Festivals That Creates Awareness and Buzz

Chipotle hosts a free festival called “Cultivate.” It is a series of free festivals with celebrity chefs, live music, and activities that spreads awareness about sustainable agriculture. 

The Reason Why It Is Effective: 

Free festivals are one of the most effective tools to gather people, create a buzz, and spread one’s chosen awareness. But by being free, Chipotle made it sure that what they are providing are not “free craps,” but something that people can really enjoy. 

7. Chipotle Has a Newspaper Column to Spread its Awareness

Chipotle has been running a column in Huffington Post entitled: “Food for Thought,” which is focused on creating awareness about humane and sustainable agriculture practices. 

It’s a good source of quality content that comes from both consumers and industry experts. 

The Reason Why It Is Effective: 

Partnering with a news outlet solidifies the credibility and seriousness of Chipotle’s advocacies. With a consistent stream of content from their column, it gives more angle to the cause they are promoting.

8. Producing One Quality Content After Another 

Quality Content

The consistent efforts of Chipotle to produce quality content that supports their cause is what keeps them on the consciousness of their wide audience. Their “Scarecrow” short film is another example of its drive for quality. It is about the scarecrow who wants to combat the fictional farming industry through his fresh produce. It’s not just an advocacy content, but content that intends to entertain, with high-quality graphics, animation, and music. 

The Reason Why It Is Effective: 

Whenever Chipotle is producing new contents, they avoid pushing their advocacy too hard and negatively. Instead, they focus on entertaining their viewers that would make them finish their content up to its last seconds. But the amazing thing here is, while entertaining their audience, their important message still gets through, without being diluted. 

9. Having a Sincere Motto 

Chipotle’s motto is: “Food with Integrity,” and the restaurant chain has been proving that they are sincere with it, again and again. One of their actions that clearly showed its sincerity is its decision to eliminate GMO products on their ingredients. But a bolder move soon followed by the elimination of ‘carnitas,’ after finding out that the pork suppliers are not following animal welfare standards. These are costly decisions for Chipotle, but that is the price of sincerity for their advocacy. 

The Reason Why It Is Effective: 

It is a rare sight for fast food chains to make decisions that would hurt them badly, especially financially. But seeing Chipotle making bold decisions to support their advocacy is what people are longing to see, and it’s a useful and reliable marketing tool for their brand. Plus, by eating at a Chipotle restaurant, customers can feel that they are supporting an advocacy that can make their nation a better place. 

10. Unbranded and High-Quality Social Media Contents 

One of the successful formulas of Chipotle is not pushing their brands on people’s throats. This formula can be seen on the contents that they’ve released on social media such as “Farmed and Dangerous,” “Scarecrow,” and “Back to the Start.” With these contents, one would not suspect that these are from Chipotle. Yes, there are mentions of their brand, but it only consumes less than 2% percent of the overall content. With the quality of the content and the advocacy they are promoting, it’s a delight to watch – and one can feel proud to share it. 

The Reason Why It Is Effective: 

Typical contents from restaurants are only focused on selling something, without any intent to produce a content that inspires and entertains, that is why it can be easy for people to discard these things. 

Chipotle’s contents are on the extreme side with inspiring, entertaining, and high-quality content, which seems not to promote their burritos at all. That is why it is so easy for people to love, share and be associated with it. 

11.  Sincere Online Interactions With Their Customers 

Most restaurants see social media as a mere platform to dump their low-quality content and ads – which also makes it easy for customers to dump them. 

Chipotle sees social media platform in a different way; they see it is a portal to deepen their connection with their audience by directly interacting with them. Direct response from a restaurant makes customers feel more appreciated, and Chipotle uses this benefit to the fullest. 

The Reason Why It Is Effective: 

The large size of a restaurant chain can also be a liability for them because it makes them impersonal with their customers. With a very rigid, systems-based operations, it can be hard for big restaurants to foster deeper connections, a gap that can work against them in the future. Chipotle knows this fact, and fully utilizes the power of social media to develop connections on their customers, and pushes their brands into their hearts without trying too hard. 


Chipotle is known to have ‘free ambassadors’ that promotes their products simply because it’s good, and not because they are paid. This fact highlights the quality of products that Chipotle is producing, and puts them ahead on products that need an army of paid celebrities just to promote it. Having willing ambassadors is a fresh sight to see for a lot of people, which can convince them more in supporting and buying Chipotle’s burritos. 

The Reason Why It Is Effective: 

People are bombarded with paid celebrities that push products into their throats. By seeing free and willing promoters of a product, people are delighted because, at last, they can now see a genuine product that they can consider to buy. 

In Chipotle’s case, the presence of free ambassadors highlights the quality of their product even more, which converts more and more non-customers into loyal customers. 

5 Response to "Chipotle’s Marketing Strategy"

  1. Comment From Van Stephens

    There’s a lot you can learn from Chipotle and how they turned their word of mouth marketing into something powerful. Simple words can build brand reputation, which makes the business speak for itself without spending the marketing dollars.

  2. Comment From Charlie David

    Doing a nice contest can help your brand create more interest. A contest always helps you reward the people that truly support your business. This could be the spark you need to get more traction to your campaign.

  3. Comment From Colin Avents

    Creating an app can save you time and money. People can conveniently get on their phone to place orders and find out what new deals are available. That’s very helpful to keep a constant stream of business coming your way.

  4. Comment From Raymond Brooks

    Chipotle has a good point of treating their staff well. I think you should always make sure your employees are satisfied. They’re helping you take your brand up a few notches. It’s only right that we make the environment great for them as well.

  5. Comment From Matt White

    Being sincere is something that goes beyond just promotion. When you have a powerful message aligned with action, this can give you an edge over your competitors.

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