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09/09/2021

Chipotle enhances partnership with top influencers

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Chipotle
Chipotle is deepening its relationship with social influencers.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is launching a new program to promote closer branding collaboration with leading creators of social content.

The quick-service retailer is debuting Chipotle Creator Class, a program providing exclusive perks and partnerships to leading social influencers. The inaugural Chipotle Creator Class will feature 14 founding members, including influencers Newton NguyenZachary FairhurstNina Marie DanieleKate NnorkeliunasMoneysignericSalah Brooks, and Zahra.

In addition, one Chipotle customer will have the opportunity to join the class as its 15th member by making a creative, Chipotle-themed TikTok video using the hashtags #chipotlecreator and #entry from Sep. 9-13.

Chipotle will choose the top three video #chipotlecreator entries, and selected members of the Chipotle Creator Class will cast their vote to determine the final member. The creator with the highest score from the Creator Class will win the 15th slot in the Chipotle Creator Class, plus extra perks.

As part of the program, Chipotle will host up to three virtual brainstorming sessions per year, where Chipotle Creator Class participants can share concepts, ideas, and strategies to help build the future of the brand and the creator economy. Participants will be compensated for each session attended. 

The Chipotle Creator Class may also offer members 50 free entrées from Chipotle, catering for up to 25 people, priority consideration for future paid campaigns, special Chipotle Goods throughout the year, an exclusive opportunity to visit the Chipotle Cultivate Center in Irvine, Calif., and try new menu items before anyone else. When Chipotle Creator Class participants hit a milestone, they may thank their followers by dropping a promo code for 500 free burritos.

Chipotle has been leveraging leading-edge technologies and strategies to promote its products for several years. Initially piloted in late 2018, the Chipotle Rewards program employs a sophisticated, hyper-personalized CRM platform. Using the system to analyze customer purchase histories, the company can better target communications, such as birthday rewards and incentives that drive trials, menu exploration and brand affinity.

During summer 2021, Chipotle launched two separate gamification features for Chipotle Rewards. In June, the retailer rolled out a limited-time video game called Chipotle Race to Rewards Exchange. On Sept. 1, Chipotle officially rolled out Extras, a new loyalty feature gamifying Chipotle Rewards with personalized challenges to earn additional points and collect achievement badges.

In addition, in July 2021, Chipotle leveraged the popularity of TikTok with Gen Z consumers to recruit new employees. The company allowed candidates to post TikTok video resumes via the TikTok app or on the dedicated TikTok Resumes site throughout the month. Chipotle was among the first companies to leverage the new TikTok Resumes feature.

"The Chipotle Creator Class is an entirely new approach to influencer relationships that focuses on rewarding, thanking, and empowering our biggest fans," said Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer, Chipotle Mexican Grill. "We are committed to providing exclusive opportunities to our most influential superfans who have done so much to help grow our brand."

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. had over 2,850 restaurants as of June 30, 2021, in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, and Germany, and is the only restaurant company of its size that owns and operates all its restaurants.