Chipotle Mexican Grill made headlines across the country again last week, something that isn’t unprecedented for the fast-casual chain. Late last year and then again earlier this year, Chipotle E. coli health scare headlines were ubiquitous. Though it’s often said “there is no such thing as bad publicity,” the restaurant chain would probably preferred not to embrace the cliche. However, Chipotle is making headlines again, and, for a completely different reason. Initially reported by Bloomberg, it was learned a March 11th application was filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to secure intellectual property rights for “Better Burger.” Though this isn’t the first for the fast-casual chain (it’s behind ShopHouse and Pizzeria Locale), it does demonstrate Chipotle’s Better Burger is a teachable moment.
Chipotle’s Better Burger is a Teachable Moment
The restaurant chain certainly isn’t the first to replace gimmicks with customer experience, the practices of kids’ meals toys and characters worked many years ago, but today, businesses need to focus on customers. Chick-Fil-A is one such example, focusing customer experience and providing good food. It’s not rocket science, it’s common sense, and yet, it seems to be a novel idea that other businesses are embracing. What Chipotle is doing is innovating, but, not in a way that introduces some revolutionary concept, product or service.
One of the keys to any successful business is being able to come up with new ideas to keep operations, products and services fresh. The process of bringing those ideas to reality is called innovation. While thinking up new ideas is one step of the process, businesses have a much greater task in trying to turn that into an actual product or service that will benefit customers. —Business News Daily
The chain is simply scaling up by branching out. Reaching into other markets to gain shares isn’t new. The fact the restaurant chain has two other existing growth seeds, ShopHouse and Pizzeria Locale, isn’t any different from a number of its industry competitors. What it is doing is adopting to change as consumers seek alternatives to traditional fast food. Here’s why Chipotle’s Better Burger is a teachable moment, it’s offering something new to its already loyal customers. Too often, businesses become comfortable and complacency sets-in. If you want to continue to grow your business, you’ve got to offer something new, but do it in a smart way. Here are some tips on how to do that:
Look at the market. Of course, the very first thing you should do is to look at the market. You need to know if it’s over saturated, under served, or other dynamics that are happening. You also need to estimate what initial market share you’re likely to capture from your existing customer base and from new customers.
Study your competition. It’s no secret that you copy what already works. So, study your competition, and learn what it is they offer, how it’s packaged and presented. This will give you insight into the market and it will probably serve as a source of inspiration where you’ll discover what else can be introduced or what isn’t necessary.
Target the right consumers. You need customers to be successful and while that’s all-too-obvious, you’d be surprised how many companies have failed because they did not connect to the right consumers. When you learn who these are, it will help you to hone your marketing and product presentation.
Offer something that’s unique. People can probably get what you’re going to offer from a number of other sources (read: your competition); so, you need to offer something that is unique. It could be just about anything, but it must distinguish you from your competition in a positive way.
Start testing small, then expand. When you’re ready to launch, start on a small scale to keep expenses low and to have enough time to get feedback. This will also provide an opportunity to make adjustments as necessary. It will also be the time when you’ll know whether it’s worthwhile or not.
Has your business branched-out from its core offerings before? What were the results of offering something new? Were the endeavors worthwhile and why do you think these new offering succeed or fail? Please let me know your thoughts.