Chipotle Mexican Grill. Bad or Good? Marketing Recipes


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Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. is an American casual restaurant network famous for its mission-style burritos and tacos reportedly made with bonafide meat. Well, not that bonafide, as it appeared eventually…

This chain of restaurants has been providing its culinary services for quite a long time gaining a huge clientele over the years. But are the delicious pieces of Mexican cuisine all that Chipotle is so famous for? Unfortunately, no. This establishment’s unthorough management of the supplied food could have as well led to fatal outcomes.

Chipotle food quality is still questionable. According to consumer reviews on websites like and Yelp, and the restaurant’s story made people hesitate whether it’s worth it at all to dine out in fast foods and casual restaurants.

5 Marketing Recipes that Chipotle Did to Fix Everything

But before beginning the story itself, we’d like to give props to Chipotle for years of struggle with unreliable suppliers and war with undesired sanitary conditions. Thus, in order to “make Chipotle great again”, its executives did the following:

  • conducted a massive check of the food suppliers;
  • lowered the prices & incorporated beneficial special offers;
  • implemented a global mailout;
  • redesigned the website & created dedicated apps;
  • started inviting customers into the kitchen.

These are the things that helped Chipotle the most in its fight for integrity. Now, on with the story.

Marketing recipe


The Pioneering Fast Food

Launched in July 1993 as casual dining, in its 24 years of existence, Chipotle Mexican Grill grew into a worldwide corporation with affiliates in Canada, UK, France, and Germany. The total number of Chipotle Mexican Grill locations amounts to 2,250.

Since 2013, the restaurant was among pioneers in rejecting the GMO-containing products; in 2015, they claimed to employ only the GMO-free meat and vegetables in their food. The sales grew rapidly and constantly and the investors became permanently interested in the franchise. Everything seemed perfect.

The Food Disaster

The disaster struck in 2015 when one of the most resonant food safety scandals burst out causing a shockwave throughout the country. The Norovirus and E.Coli were reported to be found in the contaminated food being served at Chipotle at the time. It was called the Northwest Chipotle E.coli outbreak by the media. Eventually, it reached California, and, later, the East Coast restaurants joined the “Chipotle bad news” chain of events. Overall, 300+ people got sick across 14 states with 22 of them being hospitalized due to the severity of their condition. 43 locations in total only in Seattle and Portland areas were closed back then.

The food safety scandals are among the media’s most beloved topics. So, it followed the situation and tried to report the harmful Chipotle food quality accurately observing the number of sick people and monitoring the continuously closing restaurants. It was a nightmare for the embarrassed Chipotle executives and significant harm to their image as a food corporation.
The clients were disappointed and certainly angry up to 212 by Fahrenheit.

Furthermore, the consumer perception index had looked catastrophic for the company, as it eventually fell from a positive 9 in September to a negative 12,5 by December 2015.

Regaining the Pace

To regain the positions on the market, Chipotle started a massive check of their food suppliers, but, still, the main target was the consumer perception index. A lot of prospect engaging programs and actions were incorporated in order to prove they at the moment “fixed” Chipotle food quality and to attract new Mexican food lovers. Chipotle tried as hard as possible to return the former loyal clients as well, who were lost, however, only to be grasped by the numerous competitors. The company stated that with the help of their recovery strategy they will be able to restore their sales in 18-20 months.

Thus, the fight had begun, with a focus on keeping the products’ cost low with free coupons, extra free burritos (a lottery to win a Year! of free burritos is still in action), and such. The massive mailout started – a huge amount of letters to prospective clients was sent.

These activities were effective in some way, though the growth was very slow and the whole recovery process from being a part of one of the most unpleasant food safety scandals became rather excruciating. By 2017, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. showed good results and was considered quite prospective for further investments.

A redesigned website and some new applications created to ease the product picking routine and facilitate the buying processes were also implemented. “The food with integrity” program is still on the go and the details can be found on the website too. Nowadays, their general food-quality proving feature is the transparency of the way they make their food – they started inviting clients to see what’s actually going on in their kitchen. At the beginning of 2017, Forbes made an accurate prognosis of the probable stability in their growth results, which could have been considered seriously if nothing happens, of course. The consumer question appeared – is the food served by Chipotle good or bad now?

The Disaster Strikes Again

And ding-dong! The bell rang again Chipotle, bad news. In summer 2017, after so much time and effort (namely, organization of food safety meetings for employees; 10$ million programs for the small farmer suppliers; the decision to chop some vegetables offsite; incorporation of a paid sick leave; encouragement to report sick coworkers; numerous expensive marketing campaigns that involve giving out free stuff and loyalty programs, etc.), the new reports on Norovirus Chipotle food poisoning in Virginia and a shocking video with mice in Dallas restaurant caught the public eye.

The already notorious restaurant caught the unwanted attention once again which, among other unfortunate things, provoked its revenue to fall dramatically. Chipotle got into a mess again.

Chipotle Mexican Grill stock price 2018


How would you choose a place to eat? You’ll smell it in the mall being hungry after exhausting shopping, get an advertising mail or a free coupon, watch ads, etc. The pickiest ones would check the company’s current ratings and clients’ reviews. Want us to save you some time? We’ve already looked through the most pissed Chipotle reviews for you.

Thus, Chipotle still gets a ton of complaints up to this day. Mostly, people complain about the Chipotle staff’s attitude and their inaccuracy in serving. For instance, a customer from Blaine, MN went to the local Chipotle to get dinner for his family just to find that they had run out of tortillas, beans, and forks. The situation seemed pretty surreal to the man, considering that he had visited the Mexican food restaurant which is unable to provide its most essential food items.

Numerous consumers mention that the rice is served too uncooked too often (as well as the fact of the general poor Chipotle food quality), the portions are too small occasionally, the lines are too slow, etc. One of the most discussed topics is the staff’s attitude – there are reports that some managers can even threaten you instead of helping resolve some unpleasant situation.
According to the numerous recent attitude-directed Chipotle customer reviews, it may seem as though the company has a special Chipotban training camp in some hidden place (conscientious employees of Chipotle, please, do not take this sentence as an offense). Some even go as far as calling the restaurant’s operation the “abysmal service” in relation to the ever-decreasing portions –

…it seems like a rip off as I continue to pay the same price just to get half the quantity of food I would get anywhere else. The less I say about responses from the Manager the better…

– a displeased regular customer says.

The saddest and most dangerous moment here, however, are the complaints directed at the poor sanitary conditions – the staff’s dirty gloves, workers spitting in food, etc. A customer from Baltimore, MD, reported on that saw the Chipotle employee bagging chips ungloved, throwing a few in their mouth simultaneously. According to the customer, the management didn’t respond to the situation in any sufficient way –

he (assistant) said she (manager) is not taking the chips down, I said okay I will make a complaint, this is why people are getting sick…

– a discontented customer says.

Obviously, most reviews were written by the most annoyed clients. But even according to Gaussian distribution, there should be at least some exciting responses. Yes, customers still like Chipotle’s prices, but all the positive comments have average ratings. No 5-stars. There is nothing similar to “Wow! It was cool! I’ll be there for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!”. Maybe, it is a sign of the absence of prepaid reviews there.

So, Should We Eat It or Not?

So, what can be said as a recap? Chipotle is still in the subject floating stably among the fast food industry competitors. They get positive growth prognoses, though the figures are lower than expected, but, still… Will the free burrito saturate your stomach before you’re fed up with the staff’s “happy faces” and attitude? After all the notorious incidents, is the idea to feed your family at Chipotle good or bad? And the two years without the reports on the contaminated food in Chipotle also turned out to be a brief break in the clouds. In July 2017, a new thunderstorm appeared on the horizon as some fresh investigations on food poisoning appeared, and, yes, the “Chipotle bad news” may still be a thing. All in all, in their turn, the Chipotle ensures the customers that their war with sanitary issues has been won and triumphed.

It’s up to you to decide whether the food and services provided by Chipotle are good or bad. But, currently, the Chipotle Mexican Grill is the beauty and the beast simultaneously.

Jane Grin
Jane Grin is a Director of Operations at Opinion Corp, customer service, and consumer advocacy company. She has been in the customer service area for 11 years and has gained extensive experience in communication with consumers and businesses. With such a background, she has come to her current position to oversee the daily activities of the business, and coordinate teams towards the result.


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