Nearly four years after an E.coli outbreak felt around the world, things might finally be looking better for Chipotle. The brand exceeded earnings expectations for the last five quarters with digital endeavors at the core of its success. Here’s how the Mexican joint may have made its way back up from restaurant ruin.

  1. Digital Perseverance. The brand worked through significant trial and error to concoct a loyalty program that at one point, actually paid customers to use it. Instead of coming across as solely basic and desperate, it’s possible the program caught a lot of attention as it tied in popular payment app Venmo, which is fast becoming a new social network for consumers thanks to its Facebook-like feed and abundance of emoji. Say what you will about Chipotle, but the brand has shown major moxie when it comes to its digital solidarity.

2. A Fresh Perspective. Widely known as a fast food favorite, Chipotle’s decision to introduce “lifestyle bowls” seemed out of the blue for the brand. However, as the health trend continues to blossom, often  amongst millennials, this particular move may have re-opened the Chipotle doors to consumers who turned their backs on the brand in favor of a cleaner meal—especially since there is still room for comeptitors in the Mexican market according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Restaurants. Additionally, even if the new bowls didn’t strike consumers’ fancy, it at least signaled to them that Chipotle is more than just comfort food and kept the brand solidly in the spotlight as it “created food news without adding new ingredients.” Tacking onto trends doesn’t always work, but it doesn’t always hurt either.

3. Recognition of Real Loyalty. Measuring loyalty can be tricky, but Chipotle may have whittled it down to a science. The brand buddied up with delivery service app Doordash to offer users free delivery on Chipotle, directly targeting not only the extra-lazy lot, but those willing to swerve from the standard Seamless just to get to their favorite burritos. Gaining a new audience is great, but cementing a bond with old fans can be just as beneficial.

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