What You Can Learn from Chipotle’s New Back-to-School Promotions

August 31, 2016 Aditi Vora

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard the wave of bad news surrounding Chipotle’s restaurants outbreak of food related illness outbreaks.

Needless to say, sales have been down for them and they’ve seen a significant drop in foot traffic in their restaurants. No matter how they’ve changed the way they run their operations, and how they’re looking to create a more sanitary atmosphere, people are having a hard time forgetting about their major scandals.

So, in an effort to combat their dwindling sales, Chipotle has decided to employ one of the most effective forms of marketing: they’ve decided to boost their sales with their brand new promotions and are looking to launch a new loyalty program, right off the heels of their successful “Chiptopia” program which is set to end at the end of September.

How did they come up with their new promotions?

Step 1: Identify Customers Most Likely to Come Back

In order to really make sure they’re increasing foot traffic into their stores, Chipotle first had to identify which of their customers would be the most receptive to their new promotions-push. They realized that their most popular customer-base was students, particularly high school and college students.

Step 2: Create a Promotional Theme That Resonates

Next, Chipotle needed to figure out what would really speak to these college students. Seeing as it’s August and Labor day is just a few short days away, they saw their chance to really bank on the whole “Back to School” promotional theme.

Step 3: Create Promotion Guidelines

Promotions are so perfect because they give the business an option to drive more traffic by offering free products – but on their own terms. Chipotle is aware that they can’t just risk their revenue by giving free items away to every person that walks through the door. Specifically geared toward students who are dealing with going back to school, Chipotle is making sure that their promotions are only going to go to students who present a valid school id.

What does this mean for your small business?

Chipotle is a great example of a company that’s trying to make the ultimate comeback after their recent slump in sales due to the slew of PR disasters.

First, they listened to the many concerns from their customers and changed their operations. Turning those lemons into lemonade and found a way to make their food safer to eat.

After realizing that it can’t just bank on their customers trusting them, they’ve now pivoted their marketing strategy toward getting their historically popular customers back through their doors with the promise of free goods and a brand new loyalty program. If you need some inspiration, check out our guide on going 'Back to School'! 

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