Wendy's New Retail Concept Proves Recipe for Success

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It is last week's news that Wendy's is now the second hamburger chain in the US in terms of sales, overtaking Burger King.  More significantly Wendy's tops Burger King also in sales volume per store.  Additionally, this result is even more striking when we take into account the crisis that Wendy's went through after the death of its founder, Dave Thomas, in 2002.  So how did Wendy's come to perform so much better than its closest rival?

In the last 3 years, Wendy's has repositioned its brand and taken steps to better respond to its clientele.  It has successfully identified its core customers and listened to them and it has developed a concept that has determined the current results.  The concept straight from its founder's words is: "Quality is our Recipe", stressing on the quality and freshness of the food and the brand.  To present that concept and make it apparent to all its costumers Wendy's focused on 3 key areas:
Product - The company improved the ingredients in their menu items.  It also introduced new french fries premium salads and burgers, featuring thicker premium beef patties.

Message - Wendy's developed the "You Know When It's Real" campaign to emphasize the freshness of the food. 

Design - Last year Wendy's started testing 4 new store designs that would bring the brand repositioning full circle.  They are appropriately pointing to an ultra modern and sleek design that would appeal to a younger clientele.  The most interesting features that they are likely to incorporate in the actual stores are:
  • Large and tall windows - They would allow plenty of natural light inside the store.  Customers prefer spaces with natural light as I wrote in one of my posts
  • Varied seating options - Wendy's new design includes family tables, high-top, bar-style seating, cafe' style booths, and cozy chairs surrounding a fireplace.  All these stylish alternatives would make the stores comfortable and appealing to a wider range of consumers.  In fact, preliminary results from the test stores show that more customers are eating inside the stores rather than in their cars.  This feature and results are certainly consistent with the idea that exist a positive correlation between a product perceived value and the level of comfort in a store.  I discussed this idea in my post, How to Increase your Products' Perceived Value.
  • Partially exposed kitchens - The customers can view the baking and prep area reinforcing their store concept of freshness and quality.  It also adds to the experience, as the customer can feel a little more involved. 
All of these improvements are certain to have contributed to Wendy's success in the last 3 years.  They could be bolder in trying to increase customer's engagement.  However, the company is being innovative in a number of areas and seems to be succeeding in transmitting their message and concept to their customers.

Retailers in all industries should take a close look at their own operations and evaluate if they have a defined store concept and if it is noticeable in their stores.  Specifically, they should analyse 3 key characteristics: the products, the store design and atmosphere, and the customer service.  In my blog you can find a lot of helpful advice in how to improve in those areas and how to develop an exceptional customer experience.    

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