This post is the third in a three part series on ideas that will shape restaurant performance in 2011.
Part Three: Marketing
The most interesting part of this article, in Ad Age, is the comments section. The ad world sure doesn’t like it when a company drops the agency and brings creative in-house!
Chipotle’s position is interesting to us because it presents an ongoing challenge: how do you keep the “green” message fresh, and how do you measure your success in doing so? Promoting a central theme, like sustainable, local, organic ingredients, shouldn’t absolve a brand from measuring the dollar-and-cents success of their marketing activities.
As an aside, the “dress-as-a-burrito” promotion is a great example of getting killed on non-incremental promotions. Maybe Halloween is the right time to talk about the two scariest words in the industry?!?
UPDATE: A recent study in the grocery space concluded what many already know: more than one third of consumers polled remain leery of the exact meaning of a product labeled as ‘natural.’ It’s no wonder – as restaurant chains as well as other food retailers have skirted using phrases that imply health claims in favor of buzz words such as “premium” or “wholesome.”
Organic. Sustainable. Local. Fresh. Healthy. In the restaurant world, these words mean different things, yet they are still lumped together under a general “green” umbrella. Many restaurant chains seem to be chasing these ideas wholesale. For restaurant companies to really differentiate themselves, they need to unpack these “green concepts” and figure out what their customers are truly willing to pay for. The best of intentions can lead to disastrous results, as Frito Lay recently realized. Sales of SunChips plummeted by more than 11% as customers responded negatively to new eco-friendly bags made of a material that was so loud, consumers likened it to a jet engine.
Before discussing further, we should say there are many good reasons restaurant companies may go in this direction: beliefs, PR, employee morale, etc. But as we think about measurement and analytics, we are primarily concerned about one dimension: what’s the impact on consumer sales and loyalty? (more…)
I read the Momofuku cookbook last night, and strangely it got me thinking about chain restaurants. David Chang tells the story about going from buying lo mien noodles to make ramen at Noodle Bar to learning to make them in house. Is there an opportunity for chain restaurateurs from casual to QSR to differentiate better on this “in-house” dimension?
Of course, many chains already take advantage to some extent. Krispy Kreme has the famous, and famously cool looking, in-store donut making machine. At In-and-Out Burger, you see the whole potatoes being cut into fries (ironically, double frying from pre-cooked frozen probably makes best tasting fries, but from-fresh sure looks great). Panda Express has built open kitchens and a see-through wall into their refrigerator to show their fresh vegetables. Chevy’s made a name for themselves making tortillas fresh in “El Maquino”. Panera and many bagel places visibly bake on site. Subway famously brought that idea to a low-price QSR.
But there are many more ideas. To brainstorm: (more…)