Chipotle, ConAgra CEOs Explain How Digital Is Necessary To Win The Food Battles

The COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated an ongoing trend in the food and restaurant business as companies need to meet customers where they want to be met: online.

Digital A 'Key Piece To The Puzzle': Casual fast-food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. CMG emphasized the safety benefits of its digital business throughout the pandemic, including online ordering, delivery, and even announcing the first of many new digital-only restaurants.

The digital growth in 2020 was a "key piece to the puzzle" and will continue serving as a "growth engine" for the chain, Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol said on CNBC's "Closing Bell." Heading into 2020, digital accounted for only 20% of the total business and has since expanded to represent half.

"I'm very optimistic about how this digital system plays out," the CEO said.

Chipotle stores will continue playing a role in our lives as people will always want to sit down in a restaurant and enjoy a meal, be it on their own or with friends and family, Niccol said.

"I think that's going to slowly but surely come back," he said.

Related Link: Cramer Highlights Chipotle: 'Incredible Numbers' Lifted Stock To New Highs

No More "Preaching" At The Consumer: Food maker Conagra Brands Inc CAG allocates around 80% of its entire advertising budget towards online channels and this marks a major shift from prior years.

Unlike food brands that allocate a large sum of money advertising "outdated products," Conagra is taking a different approach, CEO Sean Connolly told Jim Cramer on "Mad Money." At a time when consumers are "untethered" from their TVs, Conagra needs to shift to meet them online.

The best part about marketing to younger people online is they become de-facto spokespeople when they post food pictures to their social media accounts.

"That's really the endorsement we are looking for — that unbiased endorsement from the consumer instead of the advertising preaching at the consumer," Connolly said.

(Photo by Dries De Schepper on Unsplash)

Posted In: Brian Niccoldigitalfoodonline orderingSean ConnollyRestaurantsMediaGeneral