Buffalo Wild Wings has struggled within the last 2 yrs with slumping sales and a monthslong battle between executives and an activist investor. On February 5, the parent company of Arby’s, Roark Capital Group, closed a $2.9 billion deal to obtain Buffalo Wild Wings. Paul Brown will serve as the CEO of the newly formed holding company Inspire Brands, which encompasses Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and R Taco.
The following day, Brown sat down with Business Insider to speak about Inspire Brands and his awesome arrange for Buffalo Wild Wings. “There may obviously be some changes for the menu, changes towards the experience, and changes towards the marketing,” Brown said. And even though Buffalo Wild Wings isn’t going to transform into Arby’s 2., the sandwich chain’s turnaround in the last five years – which primarily involved shifts in the menu and marketing – has become a blueprint in the future from the chicken-wings chain.
Brown says Buffalo Wild Wings’ biggest problem is that it lost what set it up in addition to the competition. “I think that in case you gaze back when Buffalo Wild Wings really was, really, really successful, it had been really the only one available doing what it was doing,” Brown said. “We had a nationalized local sports bar, and then more competition has arrived in, and I think that a number of that competition continues to be a little more innovative.”
Brown continued: “I think there’s a chance to find out the 21st-century incarnation of the things made it so successful during in particular the early 2000s.” A “sea of sameness” has emerged as being a prevalent problem within the sit-down casual-dining industry in recent years. Buffalo Wild Wings, which includes sought to market itself less as being a sports bar and more as being a general casual-dining chain, was distracted by the market sales slump as increasing numbers of millennial diners ditched the sector.
In May, Buffalo Wild Wings’ CEO during the time, Sally Smith, wrote in a letter to shareholders explaining its slumping sales that “millennial people are more attracted than their elders to cooking in the home, ordering delivery from restaurants, and eating quickly, in fast-casual or quick-serve restaurants.” Brown intends to emphasize what makes Buffalo Wild Wings menu 2019 different from other sit-down chains. “If it was growing gangbusters, it didn’t position itself against its traditional cast of casual-dining players,” Brown said.
Brown has signaled that Buffalo Wild Wings requires a new menu strategy. Currently, most of the chain’s success depends on chicken prices, which may be extremely volatile. “Ultimately, if you’re within the restaurant business, it boils down to food and innovation,” Brown said. To update Buffalo Wild Wings’ menu, Inspire Brands is embracing Arby’s for inspiration.
When Arby’s spun off from Wendy’s this year, it had been losing vast amounts of money per year. Brown took over as CEO in 2013 and drastically revamped the chain’s menu and online marketing strategy. In 2016, Arby’s reached $3.7 billion in sales, making around $1.1 million in sales per US store, up 20% from when Brown joined the chain. Arby’s had realized that it necessary to serve menu items that customers couldn’t buy elsewhere, Brown said. And when the product was sold elsewhere, Arby’s needed to have the lowest price.
The chain kept its iconic roast-beef sandwich and Jamocha shake but began rolling out limited-time offerings like the Meat Mountain, containing every meat on Arby’s menu between two buns. At Buffalo Wild Wings, whose menu continues to be little changed over time, Brown intends to roll out an identical strategy: looking for things which other chains aren’t serving but that Buffalo Wild Wings provides.
“There’s been a loss of product development at Buffalo Wild Wings with time, partially because casual dining up to now has not done the maximum amount of of this,” Brown said. Inspire Brands desires to fix by using a “systematic approach” that Brown says allowed Arby’s to rapidly churn out creative new menu items.
Arby’s success has been tied to its creative and sometimes borderline bizarre marketing plan. The chain debuted the bold “We Have the Meats” campaign in 2014. Its social-media manager was given more freedom that year after having a tweet comparing Pharrell Williams’ hat on the Grammys to Arby’s logo went viral. Brown described the approach as “make the personality, the manufacturer, use earned media and all kinds of earned media to produce a persona around it plus an awareness around it.”
“If you believe about this, the Buffalo Wild Wings brand is designed for that,” he explained. He suggested Buffalo Wild Wings’ “persona” wouldn’t become a rip-away from Arby’s but would involve taking similar risks. “Whenever we sit here annually from now avnnkf that Buffalo Wild Wings is sounding much like Arby’s, we failed,” Brown said. Brown continued: “I believe that is going to be the key – how you actually go ahead and take learnings and the capabilities from what we’ve done and leverage those learnings, leverage the infrastructure, and get it done in a way in which the brands look very different from the other person.”
When asked what customers can get to alter at Buffalo Wild Wings, Brown said, “Nothing.” Most of the task to transform the chain around is going to be occurring behind the curtain, a minimum of for the next month or two, he said. Brown says he’s already met with many Buffalo Wild Wings franchisees. As well as in January, prior to the deal officially closed, Inspire Brands started consumer research to figure out precisely what is going wrong at the chain and discover what Buffalo Wild Wings’ new era should look like.