What do Chipotle and IKEA have in common? You might be surprised to discover all of the similarities. Take yourself back to your last trip to the beloved IKEA. The giant parking lot, the long walk to the store entrance, the lines, the people, the smell of the Swedish Meatballs, and of course, the massive arrows on the ground telling you where to go next. Yes, actual arrows on the ground telling the sheeple (oops, sorry, I mean ‘people’) where to go next.
Well, if you think about it, Chipotle has a similar style. Walk in, funnel yourself into the order line, and then stand up straight basking in the wonderful aromas coming from the open kitchen. Once you awake from your daydream, you are hit with rapid-fire questions that determine your ultimate fate. The “build-your-own” ordering process can sometimes be stressful. Yes, almost as stressful as building your own desk from IKEA. Food is a big deal, okay? And have you ever tried adding something to your burrito or bowl after you passed that ingredient in the assembly line? Awkward…it’s just like walking the wrong way in an IKEA.
So this past weekend, Chipotle threw an event in Scottsdale, Arizona that furthered their quest on becoming an IKEA Mini-Me. Giant parking lots, a long walk to the entrance, lines, people, glorious food smells, and massive arrows guiding the way. I don’t know how we could function without the arrows! They called it the Chipotle Cultivate Festival. The theme: Food, Ideas, and Music. Amanda Freitag of Chopped, and Richard Blais of Top Chef All Stars headlined the group of foodies, and Twenty One Pilots and Bleachers headlined the group of bands.
When it came to the “free food”, you were given a road map when you came through the entrance, explaining how you could learn-your-way to a free Chipotle meal (burrito or bowl + Izze drink) redeemable at any Chipotle location. The catch? Going through the “learning process” would probably take 4+ hours. Remember I told you about the lines? So doing a quick cost-benefit analysis in my head, that $2/hour payout wasn’t quite worth the effort. For some of you thinking right now that $2/hour is worth it, here is what you have to do: watch a short film, go through a GMO exhibit, learn the difference between Factory vs. Farm raised animals, compare Fresh vs. Processed foods, then finally watch and take part in a “Guac from Scratch” presentation.
So, as you already know, I skipped the educational aspect of the event. This allowed me to check in on some other vendor tents. I stumbled across Chipotle’s new Asian concept, called ShopHouse (now with 10 open locations), and was able to snag a few free bottles of Izze. Sipping on my Sparkling Clementine drink, I was pondering on the marketing tactics that reach Gen Y. I realized that I learned of this event on Facebook, watched a video, and tagged my friends. I also realized that giving away free food is a small price to pay to have thousands of minds educated directly from the source. Chipotle, you win.
Now, let’s apply this to your business. Your homework is to read the time-tested marketing book: The Amazement Revolution (by Shep Hyken)– let’s just say, you will be amazed. Start turning customers into evangelists – Chipotle, IKEA, and Apple are leading the way, and putting the arrows on the ground for you to follow. Get after it!