Campaign of the Week: Chipotle Open Letter Focuses on Food Safety

After Chipotle customers experienced food safety issues related to norovirus and E. coli outbreaks at the company’s restaurants earlier this year, the company has struggled. Chipotle has tried a number of different promotions to win back its customers, but it hasn’t done a whole lot to address customers’ real concerns. But recently, the company launched a campaign with videos, other ads and an open letter from its founder explaining what the company is doing to better its food safety practices. Could this type of initiative help Chipotle win back some customers? We asked 1,000 respondents on September 24-28 about their eating habits and their thoughts on Chipotle’s latest campaign.

chipotle open letter

Quick Service Restaurants

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, 3% of respondents said they eat at quick service restaurants daily. 18% do so a few times per week. 38% said they usually eat at quick service restaurants a few times per month. 14% do so a few times every three months. 14% eat there less frequently than once every three months. And 13% said they aren’t quick service restaurant consumers at all.

Of those who eat at quick service restaurants at least on occasion, 36% have tried Chipotle. But just 11% said they eat there regularly, making it the least popular of all the quick service restaurants listed. McDonald’s and Subway were the most popular quick service restaurants among those consumers.

Chipotle Open Letter

Overall, just 5% of respondents said they would be certain or practically certain about choosing Chipotle the next time they eat at a quick service restaurant. And 11% said it would be very probable. Of those who viewed the first part of the open letter from Chipotle’s founder, which states that the restaurant is utilizing some food safety advancements, 5% still said they would be certain or practically certain about choosing Chipotle the next time they buy food from quick service restaurants. But 14% said that it would be very probable.

In addition, 63% of those who viewed the open letter said they were already aware of the food safety issues at Chipotle restaurants earlier this year. Those respondents were even more likely to see the brand in a more positive light after viewing the open letter. 7% of those respondents said they would be practically certain about choosing Chipotle. And 15% said it would be very probable.

Brand Attributes

In general, consumers seem to see Chipotle as a brand that reflects the kind of person they are, is respectable or held in high esteem, and is made by a trustworthy company. Those who viewed the company’s open letter were more likely to see the company as respectable and were also more likely to rate the restaurant highly in terms of healthiness.

Key Takeaways

Chipotle’s more direct approach to actually addressing customer concerns about food safety issues could be a positive step for the company. Consumers who even just viewed a short snippet of the founder’s open letter and learned that the company is working on food safety advancements were more likely to say they’d patronize the restaurant, especially if they were already aware of those food safety issues that have plagued the restaurant in months past. It seems that customers are likely to see this move as respectable, since those who viewed the letter were more likely to rate the company highly in that area. They were also more likely to consider the restaurant to be healthy, so this campaign could also help the restaurant in that area moving forward.

You can view the complete survey results in the widget below and be sure to click “Open Full Report” to take advantage of all the chart and filter options.

Photo Credit: Chipotle by Mike Mozart under CC BY 2.0

What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on September 24-28 via AYTM’s online survey panel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Pilon
Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.