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Consumer Trust: Don’t Buy It, Win It.

Brian Town Blogging, Branding, Marketing

Looking for a quick, fresh-tasting meal cultivated from GMO-free ingredients? If so, Chipotle is just around the corner and is waiting eagerly with open doors for your business. If you watch the morning news with your morning cup of coffee, however, you may be hesitant to buy another burrito bowl with extra cheese and sour cream. The Mexican Grill chain has experienced almost constant news coverage of their E. coli, salmonella, and norovirus outbreaks since September, and many of their loyal customers are seeking other options.

Before the scandals, Chipotle boasted their dedication to serving “food with integrity”. They also advertised their commitment to provide all-natural meals that benefit not only consumers, but the environment as well. People flocked to their many locations in response to their unique mission statement, and for several years Chipotle experienced raging success. The piling revenue ensued because they created a brand that grabbed consumer attention and formed a strong band of followers.

But when the company’s mission was uprooted by scandal, people felt betrayed.

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Chipotle acted quickly by putting into place a series of deals involving discounted or free products. The company’s method of recovering lost business went against the values they held at the core of their original campaign. People liked Chipotle for the taste, but the restaurant edged out the competition because they used ingredients from local farms and went GMO-free. Chipotle never focused their marketing solely on price or convenience, so why start now? Giving away free burritos and discounting other items won’t reassure consumers that the steak and sofritas aren’t tainted with harmful strains of E. coli. Standing on the sidewalk with “buy one get one free!” signs won’t prevent customers from taking frightening trips to the ER. And finally, dishing out free chips and guac certainly doesn’t stop key shareholders from filing lawsuits and newspapers from writing damaging articles.

Chipotle has recognized these concerns and set into motion plans to fix them, such as changing the way they prepare food and making tougher guidelines for food suppliers. Such renovations are crucial to the company’s recovery and they should focus their advertising on these key points instead of giving away free stuff. If their target audience wanted cheap, quick food, they would dash over to fast-food places like McDonalds or Wendy’s. Chipotle shouldn’t try to buy their customers back, but should instead win their support by showing them the changes they are making. By recognizing the company’s faults, and showing the world that they are working hard to fix them, consumers will appreciate the effort and reward them with their business.

Chipotle, don’t make your situation more sketchy by covering it up with free chicken burritos. Overcome the heat by remodeling the system, all the while staying true to core values. Show customer appreciation by sticking to the goals both you and the consumer shared from the very start. And most importantly, don’t try to buy their trust if it’s not how you gained it in the beginning.

Have any questions about branding or gaining consumer trust? Don’t hesitate to contact us here at Michigan Creative.