Qdoba vs. Chiptole: How Qdoba Won in Madison, WI


Brand battles are some of the most polarizing points of the U.S. marketplace. Coke vs. Pepsi, Ford vs. Chevrolet, Qdoba vs. Chipotle.


Competitions like these, involving products of extreme similarity, prove the value of branding. Heated debates between fans of each brand reinforce customer loyalty and further builds brand equity.


HyperValue's Contribution to the Battle


In Madison, WI, Qdoba found a way to win new fans. The benefits of gaining more market share and winning competition are vast, but the execution is a massive challenge.


Without trying, marketing managers of the restaurant chain found a way to do it, and incidentally found a new benefit of HyperValue's gift card trade/barter program.


The intent was to lower the cost of a print advertisement, which targeted college students and their parents, in early May, highlighting Qdoba's catering packages for graduation parties. By executing the transaction as a gift card trade, Qdoba also became the go-to lunch for HyperValue staff members, including several Chiptole loyalists.


In fact, the writer of this case study had never walked through the doors of a Qdoba location. Chipotle had been the more accessible option, merely because the chain had more locations close to home. That changed in the summer of 2019, attributable entirely to the trade execution.


Qdoba found a group of weak Chipotle loyalists, provided an opportunity to venture outside their habits. Within one month, staff members had exhausted the gift cards from the trade, but continued their new habit of lunch at Qdoba. Three staff members in particular became Qdoba loyalists, resulting in long-term customer value.


The return on investment from these few staff members alone shattered any concerns about the cost of providing the gift cards as trade assets. Sales generated by the catering advertisement - the original purpose - became merely a perk.


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