What is in this article?:
- Chipotle likely to increase menu prices midyear
- Tweaking marketing efforts
Chief financial officer Jack Hartung said commodity inflation hit “harder and faster than expected.”
Tweaking marketing efforts
Meanwhile, Chipotle is continuing efforts to build traffic.
After shying away from traditional marketing somewhat in 2012, Chipotle said it would invest in a “full complement” of marketing — including billboards, radio and print ads — in about 25 markets this year.
In the past, Chipotle had focused more on brand building, such as emphasizing the quality of its ingredients with its “food with integrity” campaign. This year, however, the efforts will focus on building traffic with the goal of engaging customers to go online for a buy-one-get-one offer or some other transaction-driving event, said Ells.
Last month Chipotle announced the launch of catering, which is available now in its home base of Colorado and soon will be rolled out nationwide.
Starting next week in San Francisco, the chain is testing a new braised tofu protein option, called Sofritas, which Ells said will appeal to meat eaters and vegans alike. “Even if one is not vegan or vegetarian, you can participate in the idea that eating less meat is somehow environmentally responsible or maybe better for your health,” he said.
Boosting international growth
For the year ahead, Chipotle is maintaining its growth plans, with 165 to 180 new restaurants scheduled to open — about the same as last year. Among them are four international locations, including the chain’s first in Germany.
Ells said Chipotle’s plans for Canada, where there are five units open, as well as the growth of the secondary ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen concept, offer the most potential as “seeds” for new growth.
In Canada, Toronto is close to being considered a “proven” market where the company can expect a certain return on investment with new openings.
In London, however, the company is struggling to boost awareness of the brand, and units are showing less–than-typical volumes. Marketing efforts there are focusing on building awareness, said Ells. “Once people visit, they become loyal customers.”
The first ShopHouse location in Washington, D.C., is also performing well, and two more are expected to open during the second quarter: a second unit in Washington and a location in Santa Monica, Calif.
During fiscal 2012, Chipotle opened 183 new restaurants for a total of 1,410 units.