Chipotle embraces viral TikTok trend with new menu item

    • Chipotle Mexican Grill on March 2 will launch the Fajita Quesadilla as a digital-only menu item available through its app and website, according to a press release.
    • The item began as a viral menu hack created by a pair of TikTok creators, Alexis Frost and Keith Lee, but posed a challenge for the chain’s restaurants as it was not an official menu item on its digital ordering channels.
    • To pay homage to Frost and Lee, their original orders — dubbed the “Fajita Quesadilla Hack” and the “Keithadilla” — will be available for a limited time. The addition of the item demonstrates the power of TikTok to act as a two-way communication tool between brands and consumers. 

    Chipotle’s addition of the Fajita Quesadilla demonstrates how TikTok can be more than just an advertising platform to reach Gen Z and millennial consumers, but a tool for social listening that can inform business decisions.

    In late 2022, Frost’s review of a Steak Quesadilla with Fajita Veggies was stitched on TikTok with Lee’s review of the item with a DIY dressing that combined the brand’s Chipotle-Honey Vinaigrette with sour cream. The attention from Frost and Lee, who have 2.4 million and 10.7 million followers on the app, respectively, generated more than 30 million views, 3 million likes and tens of thousands of likes and shares of the viral content.

    However, the item was not available via the chain’s digital ordering channels, creating headaches for employees tasked with meeting consumer demand around the item, per Chipotle. By adding it officially, Chipotle can tap into the viral interest in the item while keeping its operations smooth and its employees happy.

    “TikTok has not only changed the way we communicate with Gen Z, but it’s proven it can identify areas of opportunity within our business,” said CMO Chris Brandt in the press release. “With the launch of the Fajita Quesadilla, we are celebrating Keith, Alexis, and all our superfans who were craving this delicious customization while prioritizing support for our employees.” 

    The addition of “Keithadilla” and “Fajita Quesadilla Hack” items made in homage to the TikTok creators taps into the trend around celebrity menu inclusions pioneered by McDonald’s and its Famous Orders platform. Chipotle has added various brand ambassador and influencer items to its menu as part of previous campaigns, a tactic parodied in 2021 by competitor Taco Bell.

    Items going viral on TikTok and other digital channels have created issues for brands that have not been able to quickly meet demand or integrate such viral hacks into their operations. McDonald’s in 2017 infamously faced issues around providing a sauce made popular by TV show “Rick and Morty,” while more recently, Waffle House employees have pushed back on orders for a hack that went viral on TikTok.

    Chipotle has long embraced emerging technology on mobile and social media platforms as part of its marketing efforts, including texting, Roblox, BeReal, Cash App and more. 


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