Chipotle’s newest crisis doesn’t have anything to do with E. coli or norovirus.
A note from Deutsche Bank analysts says customers are growing tired of the company’s limited menu and choosing other fresh, customized fast food options.
“We believe [Chipotle’s] success made them a bit complacent (although not with its desire to expand its store base or improve in-store operations) as the company’s lack of interest in innovation over the last decade has resulted in what we consider to be menu fatigue,” analysts Karen Short and Brett Levy wrote in a note Tuesday.
The “menu fatigue” issue is a big problem for the company, which has focused on its simple menu as a positive of its operations.
The only major change on Chipotle’s menu over the last 23 years was adding tofu sofritas in 2014.
“Chipotle restaurants serve only a few things: burritos, burrito bowls, tacos and salads,” the company wrote in a 2014 annual report.
“But because customers can choose from four different meats or tofu, two types of beans and a variety of extras such as salsas, guacamole, cheese and lettuce, there’s enough variety to extend our menu to provide countless choices.”
Deutsche analysts disagree with that stance and downgraded Chipotle shares from “hold” to “sell” on Tuesday.
Analysts note that same-store sales at locations opened at least one year, were already showing signs of weakness, even before an E. coli outbreak sickened more than 50 people in 14 states.
“The company dramatically trails its peers in the world of data analytics,” the analysts write. “Without the high levels of insight many of its competitors already have, we question how easily, how effectively or at what cost [Chipotle] will be able to locate and recapture its lost customers.”
Shares at the company are down nearly 1% following the Deutsche Bank report.