Chipotle Mexican Grill masterfully combines a solid product with a variety of cause marketing activation methods to showcase its deep commitment to the sustainable farming movement. My guess is that this authentic and integrated approach to cause marketing has had more than a little something to do with the fact that the brand is now 1,000+ restaurants strong.
One of the keys to cause marketing success is authenticity. Consumers are savvy – they can smell cause-washing a mile away. It helps when the C-suite lives and breathes the cause, as is the case with Chipotle Mexican Grill Founder & CEO, Steve Ells. When asked if the socially conscious business model works, he said that it builds a deep bond with the consumer and keeps them coming back. You can check out the Niteline video interview with Steve here.
Chipotle’s “Food With Integrity” mission is a commitment to finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for the animals, the environment and the farmers.
This savvy brand continually leverages at least four types of cause marketing strategy (Cause Marketing A La Carte, if you will): Corporate Cause Promotions, Socially Responsible Business Practices, Social Marketing and Community Volunteerism.
1. Corporate Cause Promotions:
- Commitment to make a contribution or donate a percentage of revenues based on product sales
- Product-specific (typically)
- Consumer driven
- Commercial Coventure
Chipotle’s current marketing campaign, Wrap What You Love, includes an online contest that invites consumers to wrap their favorite things in gold tin foil for a chance to win prizes with online voting for gold-wrapped faves triggering $1 donations to www.familyfarmed.org. At the time of this blog post $68,367 has been raised thus far. Check out how it works and cast your vote! The promotion is designed to draw attention to the brand’s use of ingredients that include naturally raised meats, local and organically grown produce and dairy products made from rBGH-free cows.
Other corporate cause promotions from Chipotle include: Picnic For the Planet on Earth Day, 2011 and its “No Junk” campaign in 2010 that raised money to fund healthy school lunches via donations triggered by “junk-mail” submissions.
2. Socially Responsible Business Practices:
- Discretionary business practices and investments that support social causes
- Community well-being and environmental protection
- Modifications to or new ways of doing business with a social conscience
Food With Integrity food sourcing commitment
Sustainable Design: Gurnee, IL restaurant is the first ever restaurant to receive the Platinum certification in the Leadership in Energy Design (LEEDS) rating system.3. Social Marketing:
- Corporate support for the development and/or implementation of a behavior change campaign
Chipotle is teaching people to consider the source of the food they choose to purchase, hoping to influence the decision making process for all future food purchases. It also showcases a viable business model for potential industry-wide behavior-change.
4. Community Volunteerism:
- Encouraging employees, retail partners, and/or franchise members to volunteer time to support local community organizations and causes
- Stand alone efforts or non-profit collaboration
- Company organized events or employee driven
Each Chipotle restaurant is an active part of its neighborhood. [Although they sure do need to update their website, as the items featured date back to 2009.]
Based on the brand’s 2011 marketing plans, Chipotle’s integrated, cause-focused marketing approach must be working:
“Chipotle’s mission to serve “Food with Integrity” has become a bigger part of its marketing and is now the focus of most of the company’s communication, from its advertising to the in-store packaging and corporate website.”
As a cause marketer, I’m always looking for ROI to showcase. I can only help but wonder if Chipotle’s authentic and well-executed cause commitment has played a key role in Chipotle’s favorable EVA Momentum* rating.
*EVA Momentum: A metric that helps measure a company’s economic performance defined as change in economic profit over time. As a result, it helps investors determine whether the company is creating value for its shareholders. Source: CNN.com