There’s equity in a brand and public trust in a brand. Right now, Chipotle has a product that is making people sick so they’ve lost the public trust. In the past couple months, the Mexican fast-casual chain shut down 43 locations in the Pacific Northwest after an E. coli outbreak and in a separate incident, more than 140 Boston College students fell ill with norovirus symptoms after eating at Chipotle. Their stock is being hit hard because of the recent health incidents which has now primed the public to associate Chipotle with disease.
So how can Chipotle fix their brand?
Currently, Chipotle is not handling their problems correctly – they’re letting the MARKETPLACE lead the messaging and it should be the opposite. Chipotle needs to be taking aggressive actions to ensuring food safety in all of its restaurants and throughout its supply chain in order to regain consumer confidence. One way to do this is showing the public their commitment to becoming an industry leader in food safety, which could mean taking cameras into the restaurant and showing people their food handling procedures and cleanliness. Although this was originally a supplier issue, they still need to assure the public that they’re doing a better job at vetting their food supplies. Most food suppliers have a computerized system that reports everything that’s being handled at every second – so it’s easy to monitor suppliers, but you just have to do it.
At the end of the day, it’s your brand that’s being hurt far more than others.