Chipotle Puts More “Choices” on Menu

 In 4. Jenny Brooks, Marketing, Public Relations

By Jenny Brooks

chipotle_logo_web According to an article on NRN’s Web site, Chipotle Mexican Grill is putting some lower priced items and suggested burrito concoctions on its menu as a test in Denver.

This is the perfect example of tampering with something that works. The beauty of Chipotle is the simple menu – you either get a burrito or tacos. You can get all the fillings without the tortillas and call it a “bowl” or you can add a lot of lettuce to the “bowl” and call it a salad. That’s it. Oh yeah, you can add some chips for an appetizer. And for the savvy Chipotlean, you can request a cheese quesadilla for your kids.

That’s the absolute beauty of Chipotle. It’s simple, the food is exceptional in terms of quality and freshness and you don’t have to think too hard. You look at the choices behind the sneeze guard as you follow your burrito maker down the burrito bar, calling out your choices for your perfect burrito and then you pay.

I love Chipotle because I can make it mine. And I know it’s going to be awesome every time because everything Chipotle offers is quality.

Not only are they taking away the fun and imagination of making your own burrito with whatever you want to go into it, they’re adding things to the menu such as soup and side salads. They’re communicating value pricing.

I’m sorry, but even on the heels of 7 and 8 percent price hikes, you get a lot of food for that $8 or $9.

Simplicity, quality and freshness were its core brand values. What will they be now? You can’t have quality and freshness and value in the same sentence. If you want value, you go to Taco Bell. If you want good food in all senses of the word, you have to pay a tiny bit more.

Will this really bring in more customers or help the ones who stand there confused about how to make it all work? I’m disappointed. Chipotle has always been a kind of maverick on the fast casual scene and now they’re succumbing to the same scramble to make a buck that everyone else is.

They’re devaluing their brand. Whatever changes you make to your menu, your pricing, your staffing, your service – make sure the changes still align with your core values, your mission.

As independent operators, you have flexibility to make changes like these, but before you do, make sure you think about their impact on your brand. Maybe the bigger question is, do you know what defines your brand and what your core values are?

Jenny Brooks is a public relations professional providing expert and strategic tactics for businesses trying to increase awareness about themselves and their products. She is also the editor of SMART Systems Insider, a monthly newsletter from Restaurant Expert David Scott Peters. Questions about PR and how she can help your restaurant? Email her or follow her on Twitter (@jennybrooks).

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