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Chipotle, ConAgra CEOs Explain How Digital Is Necessary To Win The Food Battles

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Jayson Derrick
·2 min read
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The COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated an ongoing trend in the food and restaurant business as companies need to meet customers where they want to be met: online.

Digital A 'Key Piece To The Puzzle': Casual fast-food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE: CMG) emphasized the safety benefits of its digital business throughout the pandemic, including online ordering, delivery, and even announcing the first of many new digital-only restaurants.

The digital growth in 2020 was a "key piece to the puzzle" and will continue serving as a "growth engine" for the chain, Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol said on CNBC's "Closing Bell." Heading into 2020, digital accounted for only 20% of the total business and has since expanded to represent half.

"I'm very optimistic about how this digital system plays out," the CEO said.

Chipotle stores will continue playing a role in our lives as people will always want to sit down in a restaurant and enjoy a meal, be it on their own or with friends and family, Niccol said.

"I think that's going to slowly but surely come back," he said.

Related Link: Cramer Highlights Chipotle: 'Incredible Numbers' Lifted Stock To New Highs

No More "Preaching" At The Consumer: Food maker Conagra Brands Inc (NYSE: CAG) allocates around 80% of its entire advertising budget towards online channels and this marks a major shift from prior years.

Unlike food brands that allocate a large sum of money advertising "outdated products," Conagra is taking a different approach, CEO Sean Connolly told Jim Cramer on "Mad Money." At a time when consumers are "untethered" from their TVs, Conagra needs to shift to meet them online.

The best part about marketing to younger people online is they become de-facto spokespeople when they post food pictures to their social media accounts.

"That's really the endorsement we are looking for — that unbiased endorsement from the consumer instead of the advertising preaching at the consumer," Connolly said.

(Photo by Dries De Schepper on Unsplash)

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