Copper Branch Markets with a Purpose

    The plant-based fast casual puts its money where its mouth is.
    Bowl of food on a white towel and marble table at Copper Branch fast casual restaurant.

    Copper Branch

    "Too many messages can pose a real challenge so we are streamlining," says Copper Branch CEO Rio Infantino.

    With 60 locations across the U.S., Canada, and Europe, Copper Branch is one of the largest plant-based restaurant chains in the world. Its mission is to serve the world healthy, hearty, and delicious plant-based alternatives in the quick-service realm. In addition, all its food, products, packaging, and restaurant interiors are focused on environmental responsibility along with its committed marketing efforts. From its partnership with Rainforest Trust to donating a percentage of sales of its new Crab Cake Burger directly to The Ocean Cleanup, this brand puts its money where its mouth is. I sat down with founder and CEO, Rio Infantino, to talk about the brand and below are highlights from our conversation:  

    What marketing strategies have had the biggest impact?

    Definitely working with influencers versus traditional marketing. By working with top bloggers, athletes, and influencers across Instagram and Facebook, our marketing initiatives have had significant ROI.

    How has your marketing changed as you tie in with global issues?

    Too many messages can pose a real challenge so we are streamlining. For example, we are very committed to saving the rainforest, planting trees, feeding hungry children but these issues can create complex messaging. As a result, we are using our website to define our role and how our guests are helping when they dine with us. 

    Can you tell us about specific initiatives you are involved with now? 

    The first partnership is with Rainforest Trust. They understand that the degradation of rainforest lands are directly impacted by food decisions we all make. Every time a Copper Branch customer uses their rewards loyalty card, a portion of their order is directly donated to Rainforest Trust. When our customers earn their loyalty points, one-third are donated and two-thirds goes back to the customer as cash value. Thousands of enthusiastic members have had a huge impact and we estimate that our partnership has saved over 3,000 acres of rainforest globally. Additionally, we work with One Tree Planted, an organization that supports global reforestation. And, through proceeds, we have tried to make a difference in the amount of plastics contaminating our seas and waterways by donating a percentage of sales from our new Crab Cake Burger directly to The Ocean Cleanup.

    How important is social media for brand communications?

    We are very active on social media. Every other day we post fresh content that is either lifestyle or food related. We post medical tweets about plant-based food by Dr. Turner who promotes vegan lifestyles and shares tips on how to improve your health.

    How active are you in community relations and how do customers participate?

    We sponsor many events that benefit the Lymphoma Association and other cancer organizations by contributing often as well, being Board members. We sponsor some school lunch programs by offering free food and educating on nutrition and a better diet. Our customers are a big part of these contributions.

    What marketing tip would you give to a new brand just starting?  

    Learn all you can about using social media to reach your customers. It is cost effective and it is where people are engaged. Facebook and Instagram are the most effective for us. Target your audience, segment and focus on that to start. It will be money well spent and much more efficient than a billboard!

    Reader Question: How can we collect and analyze the data so it can be effective for all departments?  

    Creating a reporting rhythm is essential in order to identify and reconcile goals and answer questions like, “Who has the greatest ‘need to know’ as it pertains to certain insights? How often should we be reviewing these areas and who should be included? Which insights are most actionable for us in the short term or long term?” Assign a data lead who will provide a holistic view to ensure the insights are effectively disseminated across all areas of the business to develop meaningful next steps.

    Do you have a restaurant marketing question? Email

    Rom Krupp, the founder and CEO of OneDine, a comprehensive dining solution for restaurants which increases table turns and incremental sales while reducing labor costs. He can be reached at