From The Book: Don’t Pioneer, Perfect!

Chipotle has not been the great innovator in the fast casual business. There are several concepts that look, feel and feed consumers better.  They did not invent the concept of the fresh food assembly line. They were not the first to introduce sustainably and transparency sourced ingredients or to apply an industrial design ethos that made the primary colors and hard plastic of the fast food design palette obsolete. Rarely do pioneers also produce high quality; they are too busy trying to troubleshoot their new ideas to pay attention to fit, finish and customer experience to produce excellence. Apple might be the exception; they managed to both pioneer the definitive online music business model with iTunes while introducing a product that has still not been surpassed. They did the same with the iPhone, defining the smart phone segment.

Chipotle is not the Apple of the restaurant industry. However, their growth has been nigh unstoppable. There are several reasons for this, the most important of which is that being the first mover in a market space does not automatically confer success. While there is some advantage to be in had being the first player in a market niche (or in creating that niche), doing so more often leaves the first mover quite vulnerable.  

Would you stop innovation in fear of the first mover syndrome or try to become the company to take the idea main-stream? I would love to hear your comments just post below and I will be happy to respond or you can always tweet me @paulbarron or via email.

Posted on October 12, 2011 and filed under The Chipotle Effect.