4 Things Chipotle Can Teach You About The Heart of Your Most Loyal Customers

Connecting to Your Core

Chipotle Author Series Appeals to the Minds of Their Loyal Customers

Food, Film, and Literature. The latter two may not be what automatically comes to mind when you think of Chipotle. Sustainable, local, fresh, good-value, fast, delicious might be better descriptors.

So why has founder and CEO, Steve Ells, been spotted featuring “artsy” shorts such as the Chipotle’s original web series, Farmed and Dangerous, and most recently, an author series on it’s beverage cups from authors that are no lightweights such as: Nobel Prize in literature winner, Toni Morrison; brash comedienne, Sara Sylverman; and fast, edgy fiction writer of Money Ball, Michael Lewis?

Because Steve Ells totally gets Chipotle’s loyal customers…and he’s hoping to gain more by moving past the gut and into the hearts and minds of his customers.

So, what 4 things can you learn from Steve Ells and how can you apply this knowledge to your own heath communications?

1. Chipotle understands that their customers are not only mindful eaters, but mindful in a variety of areas in their lives. They get that the core followers that come to their restaurants because Chipotle sources local, sustainable healthy ingredients and are maybe willing to go a few more miles up the road or pay a bit more  for that than they would at the closer dollar menu restaurant, are most likely people who take time to read, explore, and understand many other aspects of the world around them. So why not offer some other opportunities to satisfy that ever analytical, curious, knowledge-craving consumer.

Have you limited your understanding of your consumer base to age, sex, income, and geography? How can you gather further insights in to your audience and tailor your communications to enrich the complex interests and aspects of your audience’s personalities? Start doing some digging today. See who else your followers are following on twitter, check out some Facebook profiles and Pinterest pages. Listen to what they are talking about. Movies? Art? Music? Current topics? And then, let loose. Brainstorm how you can choose one or a handful of those seemingly unrelated threads to your own communications. Then step back and see if you hit the nerve and sparked something new in your community of followers.

2. Chipotle customers come to expect something more than just a quick, nutritious meal. They will come to expect to be engaged on different levels that speak to various interests and passions. If you stop at another fast-food chain, you expect a quick, inexpensive meal, but if you go in to Chipotle, you can also expect to have your literary curiosity satisfied or be exposed to a fresh idea from a lauded author, all in one small “bite” of time. You’ll come to wonder, “What next?” each time you choose Chipotle.

What can you bring your health consumers that might seem unrelated to your immediate product or service, but clearly speaks to another layer of your audience’s interests? Do consumers of your natural beauty products also have a heavy interest in gardening or Buddhism? Do the consumers of your protein bars also typically have a penchant for rock music? How can you link your product, service, and communications to satisfy yet another customer craving and thus build emotional engagement and loyalty.

3. Chipotle created an opportunity to spur conversation that has an even more lasting impression and has a greater likelihood of being shared with others. I, a lover of literature, came home after a lunch that was meant to be a typical, quick one and ended up telling my husband, my older son, and a new acquaintance about the quick story I read on the back of my Chipotle cup…and now I’m sharing it with all of you because I thought it was so cool.  And, hey, maybe Chipotle will attract a few book worms to their restaurant, as a result.

What other things can you offer your audience that will encourage conversation or a different kind of food for thought?  How can you use opportunities to inspire those natural beauty consumers to the garden? Can you offer some free downloads of an emerging rock band that plays in the back ground of your protein bar’s promotional web video? Something that is spot on, that your audience will be excited about and apt to share with others.

4. Chipotle takes the opportunity to inspire their customers, thus building a further emotional connection with them and also saying something about for what the company stands. People get complacent. Things, even good things, lose their luster. But, if the company can continue to take every opportunity (a cup, no less) to evoke emotion, challenge minds and hearts, and spark passion, their loyal customers just won’t be able to get enough.

What are ways you can stir the passions of or inspire the dreams of your core audience?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Oh, and, if you’d like to discuss any of the author shorts, I’d adore that just as much!

And, of course, I’m inserting my plug here if you’d like help spinning your health communications out of your hum-drum box. INK WELLness is here to help you conjure up those Chipotle-esque ideas.

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