Chipotle’s new CEO is looking to take the struggling restaurant chain in a new direction, turning it into a “lifestyle brand” that is more “culturally relevant.”
Brian Niccol recently took the helm of Chipotle after jumping ship from another faux-Mexican fast food chain, Taco Bell. Under Niccol’s guidance, Taco Bell managed to increase their market share by enlarging their menu options, creating such incredible items as the Cheetos Burrito and the Naked Chicken Chalupa which used chicken instead of the traditional chalupa shell.
Now he’s taking his ideas to Chipotle, a company which has struggled since suffering from numerous food-safety scares throughout 2015.
Back then, various Chipotle locations were responsible for bacterial and viral outbreaks thanks to lax employee training. Health code violations caused customers to walk home with norovirus, salmonella, and E.coli in the hundreds, leading to several store’s closures and a company-wide emergency that required all employees undergo mandatory re-training.
While the training worked and Chipotle hasn’t had a major episode since then, customer confidence in the brand was shattered. Chipotle became synonymous with spending days in the bathroom, causing profits to plummet by 95% in 2016.
In order to turn things around for the troubled burrito maker, Niccol plans to take several ideas from Taco Bell and try them with Chipotle. First and foremost is to increase Chipotle’s cultural relevance turn it into a “lifestyle brand.” To that end, he plans to target millennials and tech-savvy food shoppers by increasing Chipotle’s online sales, which currently make up just 9% of all orders.
Chipotle locations are installing online pickup shelves so customers can order online and then walk into the store to find their order ready and waiting. Niccol also wants to partner with more third-party delivery services to make Chipotle delivery a more common reality. Chipotle currently uses Postmates as their delivery partner.
Finally, Niccol wishes to bring happy hour deals to most stores. The idea would be to offer $2 tacos and drinks between the hours of 2-5 PM, and again after 8 PM.
Whether these changes will bring back wary customers remains to be seen.