But that success is no excuse to stagnate. Schroder believes customer sentiment is fueling the run, as evidenced by recent polls, and is something that needs to be nurtured by the hour. For two of the past three years, guests have picked Moe’s Southwest Grill as America’s top Mexican chain, according to the Harris Poll EquiTrend Study. It topped the survey of 100,000-plus customers in 2016 and 2017, with Taco Bell owning the chart this past year.
How Moe’s accomplished this is far from a simple formula, and it’s something rapidly evolving as the service dynamic shifts. Perhaps the most critical angle, though, is customer engagement. What does that look like with today’s mediums? Moe’s takes the approach that at least once every 90 days it needs to unveil some fresh campaign to speak to its guests. Cinco de Moe’s and Free Queso Day are two of the staples. The Chief Taco Officer search and Tour de Burrito were other recent proprietary ideas that hit the web.
The CTO promotion, to spotlight, was an April campaign where Moe’s launched a nationwide search on social media among its loyalty members to fill the spot with a super fan. It even let customers pick the winner, Kate Munoz. Besides just engaging its base, Moe’s did this to generate interest around a menu launch—Three Amigos Tacos. Munoz led a multi-city food-truck “Taco Tour”—a first for Moe’s—where the brand gave away more than 10,000 free tacos. Lindsay Haynes, Moe’s PR manager, says the social media content drove 1.6 million impressions. It generated $3.5 million in ad equivalence, Schroder adds.
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“So essentially we supplemented our media budget with all that pickup and what a great way to launch a new market, to get all that attention,” he says.