Who can sell braised tofu to a nation of meat lovers? Chipotle can.
The fast casual Mexican food chain introduced Sofritas last year in select markets but faced a serious problem, at least in the US. Americans eat meat — and a lot of it. Who wants some tasty braised tofu?
So Chipotle got creative and came up with the perfect promotion. The company was so sure that people would love Sofritas that it offered you a free meal if you’d try the strange, new menu item. Come in on Monday, January 26th, order Sofritas and receive a free entree of your choice.
Why was this promotion so genius?
- Serious sales spike: In order to get your free entree, you had to try Sofritas on January 26th. Not only did the restaurant chain enjoy a serious sales spike, it drove traffic through its doors on a traditionally slow day for restaurants — Monday.
- Easy (but not too easy) redemption: All you had to do to receive your free entree was bring back your receipt, beginning the next day. Easy enough, but I’m sure a lot of people failed to return to collect their freebie, so Chipotle saved some major change.*
- Spread out the hit: You could redeem your free entree beginning the next day, January 27th, through February 28th, so you had an entire month to cash in. Also, Chipotle spread out its financial hit over a full month instead of losing massive sales in one day.
- Target the right audience: Why didn’t Chipotle just offer free Sofritas on one day? For all the reasons mentioned above AND who the company was trying to attract. The restaurant chain wanted loyal customers to try a new menu item, casual customers to find a new favorite — and come more often — and new customers to add Chipotle to their restaurant rotation. In other words, people who would continue to give the company business and more than pay for the free meal — not people simply looking for free food.
- Strong social sharing: How did I find out about this promotion? The same way most did — through social media. Friends like to notify their friends of new opportunities and good deals, so this promotion spread like crazy. Chipotle enjoyed strong digital sentiment and online community growth.
The result? A huge success! The promotion drew so many takers that some restaurants ran out of Sofritas, which did generate a small amount of negative social reaction. (Remember, a ‘good problem’ to have is still a problem.) However, the majority of people who ventured out and tried Sofritas actually liked them. Imagine that!
When you face the daunting challenge of introducing a new product or concept to your audience, remember how Chipotle sold vegan fare to a nation of meat lovers — and they loved it.
Chime In on Chipotle, Tofu, Promotions & More
Did you try Sofritas on January 26, 2015?
If so, did you return to redeem your free entree?
Have you had Sofritas again?
How have you encouraged a skeptical audience to try a new product or service?
*Only 6.6% of on-receipt coupons were redeemed in 2012, per Inmar 2014 Coupon Trends.
An almost pescatarian,