An interview with Mark Crumpacker, the Chief Marketing Officer of burrito chain Chipotle, reveals some surprising findings about its customers' food choices.
While Chipotle has sought to identify its brand closely with a commitment to using ingredients like Niman Ranch meats that are naturally-raised (the chain's motto, after all, is "food with integrity"), a recent "ethnography study" by Chipotle of its customers found that its emphasis on quality foods was not a major factor for its customers.
"We found that people are coming to Chipotle because they love the food, which is great," Crumpacker told Brandweek. "But we found that they are not using the fact that we spend a lot of time and effort on making all of our food as sustainably and naturally-raised as possible. We all assumed that that was a big driving factor. Even people who were coming to Chipotle for a long time, they appreciate it, but it’s not the reason they are coming in. They just love the way the food tastes. That was a little bit of a surprise to us."
You have to wonder about the impact of any messaging about organic/natural/sustainable ingredients on consumer food choices when such strong, mass-marketed branding like Chipotle's is found to have such little influence. At least when it comes to burritos.