Chipotle, which used to be the darling of Mexican fast casual restaurants has seen better days. The brand has been dealing with PR nightmare after nightmare, but there’s some positive news for the burrito business. Remember when Chipotle closed and gave out free burritos to everyone to say, ‘Sorry about the E. Coli, bro?’ According to Eater, that campaign was a total success for the struggling chain. Well, sort of.
It’s pretty easy to see why the campaign was successful. Who doesn’t like free stuff even if you have to risk your health for it. Location-based marketing firm xAd tracked the foot traffic at Chipotle locations during the free burrito promotion and more people were chowing down than in previous months, but once free burritos dried up, folks weren’t coming back to Chipotle as often. The experts over at xAd compared their results for Chipotle with Qdoba. Qdoba which has undergone a slick makeover and launched an ad campaign which threw shade at Chipotle only saw a slight increase in customers during Chipotle’s bleakest days. However, the RC Cola of Mexican fast casual restaurants still lags behind Chipotle. The xAd study honestly should have compared Chipotle’s foot traffic with that of Moe’s Southwest Grill which now holds the number one spot as America’s favorite Mexican restaurant taking the crown off of Chipotle’s head. Chipotle is now looking towards the future. What does the future look like exactly for the brand? Loyalty cards and burgers.