Chipotle is transcending fast food to become a lifestyle brand.
In an attempt to combat competitors like Qdoba and Taco Bell, the burrito chain is selling organic cotton sweatshirts, sponsoring festivals for locally-sourced food, and backing a comedy video series mocking industrial farming, Leslie Patton at Bloomberg News reported.
While other brands like Abercrombie & Fitch and Harley-Davidson sell ideas like sex and rebellion, Chipotle is trying to sell idealism, Patton writes.
“It’s new territory for a restaurant brand,” Bill Chidley, a consultant at Interbrand Design Forum told Bloomberg . “It’s ambitious, but I don’t think it’s implausible that they could become a lifestyle brand.”
In addition to organic hoodies and t-shirts, Chipotle sells reusable water bottles and skateboards. It hosts "Cultivate" festivals around the country that feature musicians and celebrity chefs.
While it's making strides to market itself as an ethically-sourced brand, Chipotle had previously said that it overestimated how much consumers would care about where their food came from.
"It turned out to essentially not be true," CMO Mark Crumpacker said last year. "Only 20 to 30 percent of those people actually care about that stuff.
Still, consumer perception of Chipotle is high. It ranked third in a Nation's Restaurant News consumer survey of the best fast food brands, behind only Chick Fil-A and Panera Bread.
Becoming a full-fledged lifestyle brand presents some challenges, Patton writes.
"You’re not going to put a Chipotle bedspread on your kid’s bed,” Chi dley told Bloomberg.
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