emphasizing the optimization of second make lines and expanding the ability to pay using Apple Pay or Android Pay. These initiatives allow us to fulfill catering or online orders without disrupting throughput on our main service line. In fact, technological innovations can enhance the experience of other guests by helping to improve throughput for those who choose to dine in our restaurants. Recent digital ordering innovations have allowed us to increase digital order volumes to the highest levels we’ve ever achieved, and we believe continued improvements in these areas will allow us to achieve even better results. Additionally, we have enhanced our data capabilities to allow us to better identify individual customers and their unique frequency patterns, and to target our marketing and promotional efforts at the individual level. We believe the advancements we have made in this area will help us as we continue to target lapsed customers, and seek to build frequency among newer customers.
Our marketing program is divided into three categories: top-of-mind advertising, brand advertising and local marketing. Each of these serves a different purpose, but together they are intended to differentiate us from the competition. Top-of-mind advertising is intended to keep current and new customers coming into our restaurants; brand advertising is directed at existing customers and seeks to build deeper connections to our brand; and local advertising aims to help connect our restaurants to local communities and the customers who live there.
Our top-of-mind advertising has generally included print, outdoor, social, digital and radio advertising, but we have also incorporated some national television advertising. Beyond these traditional channels, we continue to pioneer new avenues of brand advertising aimed at making consumers more curious about some of the issues that are important to us, and explaining why and how we are working to drive positive change in the nation’s food supply. We also have a dedicated team of field marketing staff that helps connect our restaurants to local communities through fundraisers, sponsorships and participation in local events.
Alongside our restaurant teams, these efforts have helped us create considerable word-of-mouth publicity as our customers learn more about us and share with others. This approach allows us to build awareness and loyalty with relatively low advertising expenditures, even in a competitive category, and to differentiate Chipotle as a company that is committed to doing the right thing in every facet of our business.
For a discussion of risks related to our marketing, see “Risks Related to Our Plans to Improve Our Sales and Profitability and Restore Our Economic Model – Our marketing and advertising strategies may not be successful, or may pose risks that could adversely impact our business” in Item 1A. “Risk Factors.”
The fast-casual, quick-service, and casual dining segments of the restaurant industry are highly competitive with respect to, among other things, taste, price, food quality and presentation, service, location, brand reputation, and the ambience and condition of each restaurant. Our competition includes a variety of restaurants in each of these segments, including locally-owned restaurants and national and regional chains. Many of our competitors offer dine-in, carry-out, online, catering, and delivery services. Among our main competitors are a number of multi-unit, multi-market Mexican food or burrito restaurant concepts, some of which are expanding nationally. In recent years, competition has increased significantly from restaurant formats like ours that serve higher quality food, quickly and at a reasonable price.
Moreover, we may also compete with companies outside the fast-casual, quick-service, and casual dining segments of the restaurant industry. For example, competitive pressures can come from deli sections and in-store cafés of major grocery store chains, including those targeted at customers who seek higher-quality food, as well as from convenience stores, cafeterias, and other dining outlets. Meal kit delivery companies and other eat-at-home options also present some degree of competition for our restaurants.
We believe that this competition has made it more challenging to maintain or increase the frequency of customer visits, but continue to believe that we can differentiate ourselves with our purpose to cultivate nourished communities where wholesome food is enjoyed every day. For more information, see “Risks Related to Operating in the Restaurant Industry—Competition could adversely affect us” in Item 1A. “Risk Factors.” We also compete with other restaurants and retail establishments for site locations and restaurant employees.
Restaurant Site Selection
We believe restaurant site selection is critical to our success and growth strategy and thus we devote substantial time and effort to evaluating each potential restaurant location. Our site selection process is led by our internal team of real estate managers and also includes the use of external real estate brokers with expertise in specific markets, as well as support from an internal real estate strategy and research group. We study the surrounding trade area, demographic and business information within that area, and