The restaurant industry is operating in an environment like we’ve never seen before. As businesses are tested, it’s important to consider key selling points. What part of our brand makes the most sense to leverage while we manage operational challenges? How can we stand out in a competitive marketplace?
At Fazoli’s, the answer was simple—our value proposition. Other quick-service restaurants have shied away from applying marketing support around their value offerings. On the contrary, we believe in the power of value. Instead of pulling back on discounting during this time, we listened to our guests, accelerated our value proposition and relieved a consumer need, all while combatting uncharacteristic industry challenges.
Here are four reasons why a leading-edge value proposition is an important marketing focus in the current industry climate:
You can cater to your core demographic.
For several restaurant brands, leveraging a value platform may not fit. But for Fazoli’s, a prominent value proposition has been a significant differentiator in our marketing strategy. Families have always been the core of our consumer base, and having approachable options that are easy to find on the menu is key to earning their business. So, consider your core demographic and determine if a value proposition makes sense for your guests and your brand. Before the pandemic, we were testing a new value platform—5 Under $5, which features five entrées offered at an everyday low price of $4.99—and were planning on launching it in late 2020. But in recognizing how important affordable meals would be when many consumers were furloughed or had their income reduced, we moved up the system launch as quickly as we could. In addition to our 5 Under $5 entrées, we’ve expanded our Family Meal options, which also offer great everyday pricing to feed four to eight people. In late 2021, we added the Ultimate Sampler Family Meal and Baked Super Family Meal to our bundle lineup and only marketed them through CRM. During the test, incidence of the lineup jumped from 9 percent to 12.5 percent at company locations. Following the boost in sales, we have rolled out both new family meals to franchisees this year to meet the needs of more families.
You can balance your menu.
Every restaurant has a variety of consumers with different appetites who are visiting for various reasons. That’s why it’s important to have a balanced approach to your marketing plan, offering products and prices to fit a broad range of occasions. Lower-priced and affordable options are the primary messages we communicate in paid media, but for those dining in, we feature our new menu items that are priced a little higher, yet still offer great value – like a $9.99 Shrimp & Lobster Baked Alfredo that we’ll debut later this year.
Guests remain engaged with a multi-dimensional value platform.
Having a dynamic and discernible value platform gives you a unique way to interact with guests. Since launching our 5 Under $5 menu in 2020 as a limited-time offer, the lineup has become one of the biggest contributors to our success, establishing itself as a new part of Fazoli’s DNA. Italian classics, like Fettucine Alfredo and Spaghetti & Marinara, are staples of the 5 Under $5, and then we take the opportunity to refresh the menu by adding a new item every promotional window. Signature baked pastas, gluten-free entrées and other premium, craveable options have brought more variety and kept guests excited for what’s to come. In 2021, the 5 Under $5 menu was our highest performing promotion with an average incidence between 11-12 percent, so the items are certainly broad-appealing and deliver on the perfect marriage of food quality and value. Because of its historic success, the 5 Under $5 will continue to be the foundation for our value proposition this year.
It’s a win for consumers.
In today’s environment, operators across the industry are experiencing challenges with costs for food, labor and packaging rising faster than ever before. Certainly restaurants need to evaluate their pricing to reach a cost-effective solution that makes the most sense for their business. But we can’t forget that consumers are also experiencing financial challenges with rising costs. Our guests have their own economic model, and they’re also seeing inflation in prices for groceries, gas and other necessities, leading discretionary income to drop. So we have to offer prices that balance what the consumer gets and what they pay for it. It has to make sense for the guest, or they’ll go somewhere else where the overall value is better.
In this current climate, restaurant brands may have several reasons to avoid leaning into their value proposition. But, a guest-first approach may be just what is missing from your marketing mix. Whether its stealth inflation affecting consumers, or you’re looking to reach your guests in a new and creative way, a value proposition might be the secret ingredient in your marketing strategy that keeps guests coming back for more.
Jodie Conrad, chief marketing officer, has been with Fazoli’s for five and a half years and is responsible for all marketing and culinary functions for the brand – including advertising, digital/social media, field marketing, consumer insights, off-premise business development, public relations and new product development/testing. She was promoted to Fazoli’s Chief Marketing Officer in August 2019.