Why Chipotle brand will Rebound Quickly

Chipotle has been through no picnic recently, with two multi-state E-coli outbreaks, a separate norovirus issue, and widespread negative food safety publicity.   However, barring any other major food safety issue, Chipotle will recover quickly and thrive, for five major reasons.

  1. Consumers LOVE, not like, the brand – Chipotle has extremely high levels of brand awareness and brand esteem, well beyond their peers, which yields very high levels of brand equity, from which a setback can borrow.  Brand equity is like a bank account: continued positive experiences build brand equity; issues will erode.  Consumers have a very strong personal affinity, love and respect for the brand; it’s well beyond a fast-food choice they visit.  In fact, Chipotle scores 83 (out of 100) on the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), nearly at the top of all fast food brands, which average 77, well beyond Wendy’s (73) and McDonald’s (67).
  2. Chipotle has been transparent in its communication and rigorously improved product safety – Once the second E coli incident occurred, Chipotle’s leadership has aggressively communicated taking responsibility for the problem, sought best-in-class system-wide food safety counsel and implementation, and has invested in redundant measures to ensure food safety.   In their most recent quarterly report, Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle said “We are pleased to have this behind us and can place our full energies to implementing our enhanced food safety plan that will establish Chipotle as an industry leader in food safety. Image result for chipotle loveWe are extremely focused on executing this program, which designs layers of redundancy and enhanced safety measures to reduce the food safety risk to a level as near to zero as is possible. By adding these programs to an already strong and proven food culture, we strongly believe that we can establish Chipotle as a leader in food safety just as we have become a leader in our quest for the very best ingredients we can find.”  This contrasts with several food companies who either hid or understated their food safety or recall issues and were quick to try to claim it was solved with a reactionary nominal manufacturing change.
  3. Favorable food safety and public relations are reassuring and reminding consumers to return – Yesterday, both the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and FDA (Food & Drug Administration) called Chipotle’s E. coli outbreaks over.  Chipotle will close its Image result for chipotle company wide meetingstores for several hours on February 8th to have a company-wide meeting reviewing new food safety measures.  Internal communication and execution of these improved processes are already in effect in their stores.  We also expect Chipotle to resume and increase its compelling advertising, in-store promotion, and couponing programs to welcome concerned consumers back to their stores and resume their unusually high frequency and loyalty of coming back to the stores.
  4. Chipotle will refine, but stay true to its compelling promise of Food With Integrity –2010_02_Chipotle
    Chipotle loyalists are drawn to their unique positioning as a higher quality fast food option, strong price/value, and great taste.  While their will be refinements in product sourcing and distribution, the product promise of Food With Integrity will remain intact, and strengthened. Consumers will continue to see the Chipotle brand as a superior fast food choice meriting their continued loyalty.
  5. Same-store-sales will rebound faster than industry averages – Since Chipotle has a stronger and more loyal customer base, traffic will improve more quickly than the industry’s typical 12-18 months to recover same-store-sales performance, as per Credit Suisse estimates. In addition, their marketing and promotional effectivenessChipotleand sophistication will also accelerate the pace of same-store-sales rebound.  We expect a recovery in 3-4 quarters, propelled by an even stronger in-store experience, product quality, favorable public relations, and consumer word-of-mouth.

Lessons learned:
1.  Give consumers a superior, differentiated product and a reason to love, not like, your brand.
2.  Beloved brands can, and do, recover from quality and public relations issues, if they are quick, contrite, and responsible.
3.  Be proactive and vigilant in your product quality processes, pre-prepare how you would mobilize to address a product quality issue.
4.  Incent post-crisis consumers to resume confidence in your brand and incent/reward them for their loyalty.

 

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Super Bowl XLVIII Ad Rankings: Budweiser, Doritos (and Seahawks) Blowout

Budweiser and Doritos were the uncontested winners in last night’s Ad Bowl, as measured by USAToday (popularity),  Brand Bowl (social media buzz) and Katz Marketing Solutions (effectiveness).   Both brands had two exceptional spots (Budweiser: Puppy Love and Hero’s Welcome; Doritos: Cowboy Kid and Time Machine) that nailed all the essentials of great advertising:   enhances brand equity, persuasive, resonates with the target audience, compelling main message, brand integral to the story, and the Super Bowl ‘wow’ factor for entertainment.   Doritos spots were particularly outstanding – the story line is the quest for the coveted product.

Kudos to several highly effective campaigns that clearly communicated a persuasive sales message (oh – – remember that?) such as Radio Shack (visit our contemporary stores), T-Mobile (no contract carrier), and Volkswagen (durability).     These are the companies most likely to reap the best returns on their +$4 million per ad Super Bowl investments.

While the lovable animals remain timeless, increasingly grating are the formulaic ‘sex sells’ ads, sorely lacking in reasons to prefer their brands.    Sure, they ‘made ya look,” but we doubt H&M, Oikos, or SodaStream need to run out and up their production forecasts.

Lastly, we applaud two brands’ continued respect for diversity:  Cheerios and Coca-Cola.      While Coke’s song choice and multilingual approach pushed the edge with some consumers (a fairly low 57% positive sentiment score), it placed an enviable #5 on BrandBowl’s social media ranking with +33,000 tweets.

As for the worst:  the cringe worthy attempts to be funny, contemporary and cool.    Better luck next year Wonderful Pistachios, GoDaddy, and Beats Music.

Here are the winners (and worst) from three marketing mavens – USAToday’s AdMeter (panel popularity), Pointslocal and Boston.com’s Brand Bowl (twitter volume and sentiment), and Katz Marketing Solutions (effectiveness).

USA Today – AdMeter                              

Best:
1.   Budweiser (“Puppy Love”)

2.  Doritos (“Cowboy Kid”)
3.  Budweiser (“Hero’s Welcome”)
4.  Doritos (“Time Machine”)
5.  Radio Shack (“Phone Call”)

Worst:  BudLight “Cool Twist.”   Good reminder that great advertising requires risk taking.

Pointslocal and Boston.com’s BrandBowl

1.  Budweiser

2.  Doritos
3.  Cheerios
4.  Pepsi
5.  Coke

Worst:  Staples

Katz Marketing Solutions

1.   Budweiser (“Puppy Love”)

2.   Doritos (“Cowboy Kid”)
3.   Doritos (“Time Machine”)
4.   Cheerios (“Gracie”)
5.   Radio Shack (“Phone Call”)

Worst:  GoDaddy

Super Bowl XLVII Ad Winners and Atrocities

No spectacular ads last night (except for the Beyonce brand), but several excellent ads that were well worth the $4.0 million investment for the ad time, pre- and post-game public relations and social media legs.     Super Bowl advertising with strategically sound brand communications that focused on persuading consumers to buy and garner a return-on-investment, rather than sophomoric – or just lame – humor at the expense of a selling message.   Budweiser, Tide, Doritos, Skechers, and Milk Processors most of the car ads were particularly effective at keeping their products central to  the main message (vs. prop ‘afterthought’) and told engaging stories about the quest for the brand.

But some spectacularly cringe worthy ads too:   GoDaddy (disgusting, patronizing and unclear message) and Samsung (fatal flaw: inside jokes about how advertising is developed amuses no one except those who made the ads and unclear message).

Special kudos to Oreo’s brand team and brilliant agency, 360i,  for their nimble Oreo ‘You Can Still Dunk in the Dark’ mega tweet  (over 10,000 tweets) which was created on the spot during the power outage (and depleted chicken wings).    Another bravo to Beyonce’s breathtaking performance (done gratis, but 13 minutes is worth $104 million in advertising).

Here are the winners (and worst) from four marketing mavens – USAToday’s AdMeter (panel popularity), Mullen and Radian6’s Brand Bowl (twitter volume and sentiment),  us (effectiveness), and AceMetrix (Persuasion and Watchability)

USA Today – AdMeter                              

Best:
1.   Budweiser Clydesdale (horse and trainer reunited) 


2.   Tide (Miracle Stain)
3.   RAM (farmers)
4.   Doritos (fashionista Dad)
5.   NFL (Deion Sanders returns)

Worst:  GoDaddy – So awful it doesn’t deserve a link – get domains at 1and1, just in protest.

Mullen and Radian6’s BrandBowl

1.  Volkswagen (get happy office guy)  


2.  Bud Light (voodoo)
3.  Calvin Klein (guy in underwear)
4.  Audi (prom)
5.  Taco Bell (viva young)

Worst:  iRobot

Katz Marketing Solutions

1.  Tide (Miracle Stain) 


2.  Coca-Cola (security camera)
3.  MILK board (Rock running)
4.  Budweiser (horse and trainer reunited)
5.  Skechers (cheetah race)

Worst:  GoDaddy

AceMetrix

1.  Budweiser (horse and trainer reunited) 


2.  MILK board (Rock running)
3.  Coca-Cola (security camera)
4.  Jeep (home again)
5.  Doritos (goat 4 sale)

Worst:   Calvin Klein

5 Ways to Maintain Brand Growth and Relevance: StarKist’s Revitalization Strategy

StarKist‘s marketing strategy is a rich example of maintaining brand relevance and accelerating profitable growth.    Despite having some significant brand challenges:  a mature category, a mature brand, dated brand equities, and pricing challenges, their strategy is spectacular and effective.

Here are the 5 brand revitalization best practices they’ve nailed:

1.   Maintain a clear, consistent, and relevant brand positioning  –  StarKist’s brand’s positioning is the best brand of high quality, nutritious tuna.   This has been a virtual constant for over 60 years.   Consistency is relatively easy, but maintaining relevance over time is more difficult and even treacherous, if you don’t do it.    They have brilliantly adapted, but not radically changed, the brand positioning to ‘the best brand of high quality satiating nutritious tuna.’     That transformative “tweak” moves pre-packaged tuna from dated and increasingly irrelevant, to a brand that is contemporary, appealing and compelling for today’s consumer.

  

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The Ted Williams Phenomenon: Big Marketing Winners… so far

The world is temporarily fascinated with the Ted Williams homeless to celebrity voice internet star phenomenon.    At its core, it’s a heartwarming and inspiring story of second chance – and a little bit of refreshing, upbeat  news.      Of course, I’m fascinated with how  talent and instant celebrity translates to effective  brand marketing.    Here are the big winners, so far…

1.   Ted Williams, the man –  Clearly he has great talent and appears to know how to use it.    Continue reading

5 Ways to Ignite Brand Innovation

Only 10 percent of new products launched in the United States are successful, according to Ernst & Young. This 90 percent failure rate for new products is tragic and avoidable. Leading innovators could consistently and successfully launch new products, simply through better planning and execution. The failure rate of new products doesn’t have to be so high, and the number of people and companies launching successful new products can be greater. Here are five Best Practices for innovation and launch of new products:

1. Set priorities and expectations: Innovation is more successful when it is established as a corporate priority. Senior management must set and broadly communicate clear and consistent innovation goals within the corporate strategy. Goals must be measurable and have clear accountability: Sales, profit and payback goals for the entire innovation effort (all products and services), typically for a one-year or five-year timeframe. Both marketing and research and development have interdependent accountability to deliver these goals. This step alone can address the paralyzing chasm between most marketing and R&D teams. Continue reading

Brand Authenticity: Tiger’s Tailspin

Brands must be authentic.    Great brands, like people, create positive enduring relationships based on their credibility and consistency.      While brands have always needed to continuously earn their esteem, social media now makes brand authenticity a mandate.     All eyes are watching your brand, and missteps are reported globally in an instant.    Keep it simple.    Make your brand authentic.

Lack of authenticity is what’s driving the unprecedented demise of the Tiger Woods brand.   His ‘brand truth’ is dramatically different from the carefully honed aspirational brand image.    And it was that faux brand image and esteem that made brand Tiger so ideal for corporate sponsorships.     Incessant media coverage and its exponential visibility in the blogosphere unearthed the size of brand Tiger’s lack of authenticity.     Post-media frenzy, his champion credentials will remain, but the ‘wonderful man’ imagery has been unveiled as a sham.      Brand Tiger’s demise is an extreme, but illustrative example, of the danger of lack of brand authenticity.     Last week, AT&T joined the growing list of multi-million dollar sponsors who really had no choice but to stop aligning their brand with Tiger Woods.    The financial value of the Tiger Woods brand is a fraction of what it was just a month ago.     Continue reading