This past Saturday, I attended Kansas City’s, first annual, free Cultivate Festival. Cultivate was created by Chipotle in 2010, but is far more than your typical festival showcasing musical talent, it went far beyond that; did I mention it was free?
Chipotle is always making the top lists when it comes to millennial marketing. However, this event launched it way above the list. What was it about the Cultivate festival that was so alluring to millennials like myself?
- Conscious Capitalism
Chipotle’s Cultivate festival was bursting with the same integrity it swears by throughout its entire brand ecosystem. In fact, the festival served as a catalyst to educate attendees about the integrity of its mission; exemplifying that Chipotle lives by what it preaches.
At the Cultivate festival, the Chipotle passport brochure was handed to attendees when they walked through the entrance gate and allowed festival-goers access to different stations where they could educate themselves about GMO’s, fresh ingredients compared to processed and factory raised compared to Responsibly Raised® meat. Other booths featured short films about Chipotle’s efforts to make a healthier environment and step-by-step instruction on how to make brag-worthy guacamole.
Cultivate was not only filled with musical and culinary entertainment, but also served as a platform to present what Chipotle believed in an entertaining way. This is commonly referred to as edutainment and it is a key strategy for brands aiming to build meaningful relationships with millennials. I was lucky enough to be able to sit down with Chipotle’s PR Director, Chris Arnold, and find out more about how Chipotle uses edutainment to build stronger relationships with customers and promote its mission of Food with Integrity.
“It is a formula that works really well,” said Arnold. “It is making people more aware and curious about food and where it comes from.”
By focusing on educating customers about the food, not just about how to buy the food, Arnold and Chipotle in general are embracing Conscious Capitalism and creating a product that millennials are willing to pay more for.
- Healthy Not Wealthy
Upping the game of food standards is something Chipotle is rocking. Chipotle revolutionized the fast casual market by making healthy, fresh, GMO free food available to the majority and essentially created a new standard in the supply chain. The idea of making premium quality food available to the masses is on par with the democratization mindset of millennial consumers today. Chipotle’s mission of Food with Integrity does not just relate to the actual ingredients used, but also to the entire brand story starting with accessibility. This mission was fulfilled at the Cultivate festival. Chipotle teaches us that us we shouldn’t have to spend an exuberant amount of money to be able to eat truly good food, it should be our standard and should raise the standards of every fast casual restaurant.
- Big brand acting local
Millennials are an extremely locally minded generation. An overwhelming 40 percent of millennials say they prefer shopping local over big brand names. Although Chipotle is a major corporation, it has created an environment that embraces local vibes and attitudes. At the Cultivate festival, one of the primary focuses was incorporating local partners and brands into the festival experience. It was more than, “Hey look at what we are doing as a brand.” Instead it was, “Hey look at all the awesome things you have access to in your own community; were proud of that and you should be too.”
At the “Guac From Scratch” station at the festival the employee demonstrators proudly announced that they, and every worker at the festival, were real Chipotle employees from around the area. That pride is a major facilitator of the local community movement that Chipotle embraces.
In a world of processed fast food, Chipotle has set a new standard for how a fast casual brand should behave. Chipotle understands the value of aligning with a Brand Stands and connects with millennials by maintaining an open honest policy with and continuing to innovate its business model that delivers a premium product for an affordable price.
Chipotle as a brand lives its integrity mission with everything it does; it not only brings awareness to the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, but also raises the standard for fast casual product offerings and the consumer’s standard for menu options. The Cultivate festival is just another example of how there is no smoke and mirrors when it comes to Chipotle food, ingredients, community, marketing, messaging, environment, etc.; just honest-to-goodness quality ingredients, food and community.