Given the events that have occurred this past year, Chipotle could use an innovation officer. The issues they had with the e-coli bacteria in some of their food was a PR disaster and served as a major blow to Chipotle’s reputation. Although I love Chipotle, it took me a few months to trust their food again. The lines were smaller for a few months and the impact was quite tangible. The stock price plummeted over the course of several months, down from $750 to as low as $400. Chipotle needs an innovation to gain back the trust of their customers and to display to them that Chipotle is doing the right thing.
In order to have high quality ingredients in a “fast” food chain, it requires a bit of a sacrifice from the company. The supply chain at Chipotle is far more susceptible to failure because of their commitment to using suppliers with high integrity. At a place like McDonalds, the supply chain is streamlined to the point that their food is safer in some ways than that of Chipotle. I think it’s extremely important to communicate this point to people. There is a misconception that Chipotle has dirty food and there are all sorts of theories that are likely believed by many customers who stopped eating at Chipotle. People need to understand that Chipotle is trying to do right by the customers, and the mistake they made was in pursuit of something good for our society. I think that if these misconceptions are debunked, Chipotle could rise back to prominence. This would be done through innovative marketing and public relations that would be integrated into their ad campaign and slogans. Not only that, but I would create a more interactive customer experience at Chipotle locations to enable people to immerse themselves in the Chipotle supply chain process and food practices.
In order to pull this off I would need to find someone who could join my team to help me find the best way to approach this issue. When I think innovation I think Steve Jobs. I would have to bring him up from the dead but lets run with this. One of my ideas is to find a way to include some TV monitors in chipotle with some sort of interactive digital media to engage customers and help them become educated about Chipotle’s practices. Jobs would be helpful in creating an engaging interface between customer and media. I think Ed Freeman would approve of this innovation because of his agreement with stakeholder theory. Chipotle tries its best to make sure that the suppliers are a large part of their company by helping supply quality ingredients. Freeman would admire Chipotle’s commitment to this and he would approve of the pursuit to educate consumers about Chipotle’s practices.