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The Chipotle Brand Strategy: Creating “Lifestyle Brands”

Chipotle, the popular burrito and taco chain, has struggled to regain its brand relevance since the 2015 E.coli outbreak. It has struggled so hard, in fact, they’ve hired a new CEO from another famous taco chain, Taco Bell. Brian Niccol, the new CEO in charge of turning things around, has said on several occasions that Chipotle’s brand, “has been invisible.” The new brand strategy aims to make Chipotle more than a burrito and taco joint. It aims to make it a lifestyle brand that people will resonate with. It’s a lofty goal. Asking people to take pride in their choice to eat burritos as part of their “lifestyle”.

What is a “Lifestyle Brand”

Lifestyle brands are those that people identify with and that represent a specific lifestyle. For example, Red Bull and their famous, “it gives you wings,” marketing campaign established the energy drink not just for those that need an energy boost, but for people that like adventure and do great things. The message: if you drink Red Bull, you’re the kind of person that works hard and plays hard. By drinking Red Bull, you say to the world, “I can do anything!”

Lifestyle brands have a brand message that speaks to consumers on a deeper level, one that resonates with the kind of person they wish to be. These connections are deeply emotional. Achieving “lifestyle brand” status means you have more brand loyalty and you sell more products, something all marketing strategies aim to do.


Chipotle is a popular burrito chain that focuses on fresh ingredients, fast service and a simple menu. The chain grew quickly as it became known as a “food with integrity,” chain, as Mr. Niccol put it. After one of the worst foodborne illness outbreaks in 2015, Chipotle’s brand and the trust of their consumers took a major hit.

Lifestyle Branding

It remains to be seen how their marketing strategies will tie into promoting the company as a lifestyle brand. But Mr. Niccol aims to focus on fresh ingredients, new products and branding strategies that evoke strong emotional connections with consumers. Other changes underway:

  • The Closing of Underperforming Stores – In a move aimed at increasing profitability, Chipotle will be closing 55-65 underperforming locations in the next year, many of which have shut their doors already.
    • Becoming More Digital – Hungry customers can now order online through a smartphone app. Soon they’ll be able to pick up the food at something called a digital pickup shelf.
    • Delivery – Chipotle is getting into the delivery game, officially teaming up with Postmates.
  • Catering – You might not know they do this. Catering makes up about 1 percent of their total revenue. That’s going to change, as the company puts more emphasis on its catering services.
    • Happy Hours – It won’t be long before you’re able to get $2 tacos and discounted alcoholic beverages during off-peak happy hours.
  • New Customer Rewards — This one hasn’t been released yet, but we’re expecting a more engaging rewards system.


It may seem silly for a burrito fast food company to become a “lifestyle brand.” All brands would like to become associated with their target audiences lifestyle choices. For Chipotle, it will take a lot to overcome the stigma that has plagued the company since the E.coli outbreak. In fact, putting that behind them is the first – and biggest – obstacle for them to overcome. Until they put that behind them, any talk of creating a “lifestyle brand” is just more empty branding buzz words.  

If you’re interested in learning more about brand strategy, how to become a lifestyle brand or marketing strategies in general, Web Content Development is here to help. We have a team of professionals that are dedicated to growing your business. Call or email today!

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About the Author

Erica D’Arcangelo – De Silva

Erica D’Arcangelo – De Silva has worked in the Internet marketing industry for the last 20-years. Erica is the top-secret SEO weapon to marketing and advertising agencies in the world. She has generated over 300+ million in revenue for high-value brands such as Walmart, Pottery Barn, iRobot, Cutting Edge Firewood, Kelley Blue Book, and many more. Erica has custom-created more than 1,000 content, SEO, and marketing strategies which held the key to doubling and tripling online traffic, and marketing ROI. She has also authored a series of online publications including The Digital Branding Survival Guide, Million Dollar Marketing, 5 Steps to Increase Web Traffic by Blogging, and Repairing Your Online Reputation.