- Chipotle Mexican Grill this week is hosting a series of daily "Chipotle Together" sessions on videoconferencing site Zoom with celebrity guests and as many as 3,000 fans, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- Chipotle is posting a link to the virtual hangout each day on its @ChipotleTweets account on Twitter. Colton Underwood, who was "The Bachelor" in the 23rd season of the reality-TV show, hosted the first Chipotle-inspired presentation on Monday.
- To participate in the "Chipotle Together" sessions, fans aren't required to book a conference room on Zoom. The first Chipotle Together event on March 16 was at 2 p.m. ET.
Chipotle's virtual hangouts on Zoom are a novel way to bring people together as they practice social distancing to reduce the likelihood of spreading the illness COVID-19. The "Chipotle Together" online gatherings are the chain's latest innovation in online media following campaigns to reach younger consumers where they're most likely to spend time. Chipotle in the past few years has developed marketing efforts through a variety of digital platforms such as Amazon Alexa, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter and Venmo.
Fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle have had to drastically change their operations as cities and states throughout the U.S. respond to the coronavirus outbreak by ordering them to close unless they can offer delivery or takeout. The outbreak has led to a plunge of as much as 64% in restaurant occupancy compared to the same time last year, per OpenTable data cited by Recode.
Fortunately for Chipotle, the chain has worked to boost its delivery business to appeal to the growing number of people who want to order food online. Even before cities and states announced restrictions on dining establishments, Chipotle had created a tamper-evident packaging seal to ensure that food is untouched during delivery, and upgraded the messaging feature of its delivery tracker to provide real-time updates.
In addition to offering delivery through its app and website, Chipotle has built drive-thru pickup lanes dubbed Chipotlanes, a second makeline now called Delivery Kitchen, a rewards program and installed dedicated pickup shelves in stores over the past 18 months. Online orders are key to its growth strategy, especially since digital sales exceeded $1 billion last year. These efforts may provide a solid foundation for Chipotle to withstand the surge in delivery and takeout caused by the current pandemic.
The latest "Chipotle Together" effort follows other recent campaigns aimed at engaging younger consumers beyond mealtime. The chain reached more than 95 million people on viral video app TikTok with a branded hashtag challenge during the Super Bowl. During the holiday season, Chipotle gave away burritos to people who responded quickly to order codes posted on its Instagram account. It also rolled out voice ordering through Amazon Alexa to reach customers who use the e-commerce giant's virtual assistant on mobile devices or smart appliances.