Saturday, October 6, 2012

Olive Garden is Migrating to the Grocerant Niche to Garner Sales Bump.

Restaurant customers are dynamic not static and Olive Garden customers will welcome the shift in focus reflecting today’s evolving food trends.  Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru Steven Johnson detailed restaurant customer migration in his presentation at MUFSO 2012 last week.  He identified and explained how THE HDTV SYDROME is slowing top line growth within the restaurant sector.

Lacking creative insights and positioning Olive Gardens sales have been slipping.  Olive Gardens new promotion “Dinner Today and; Dinner Tomorrow” is neither insightful nor creative it is simply copy-cat marketing and a sign of internal brand indifference.

Concept differentiation is not Darden branded restaurants strong suit. This new for Darden promotion is a duplicate of the successful grocerant niche promotion run by Maggiano’s Little Italy for 3 years. Don’t get me wrong it will work, for the grocerant niche is growing and expanding with more customers and new non-traditional points of fresh food distribution. 

Here is how Olive Garden’s PR outlined the New Dinner Today & Dinner Tomorrow Promotion:

“Olive Garden's "Dinner Today & Dinner Tomorrow" promotion (Oct. 8 through Nov. 18), gives busy families a convenient and affordable way to enjoy two meals during the week – maximizing quality time dining together and minimizing time spent preparing meals. Guests choose one of five favorite entrees for dinner today, served with unlimited soup or salad and breadsticks, and take a second entree home for dinner tomorrow – all for only $12.95.

"Our new 'Dinner Today & Dinner Tomorrow' promotion is one way we're increasing the value we're providing to our guests – they can enjoy a dinner today and a dinner tomorrow for the price of one affordable meal," Spenchian said.

Entrees include:Lasagna Rollatini with Meat Sauce,Mezzaluna Ravioli with Five Cheese Marinara,
Spaghetti with Four Cheese Meat Sauce,Five Cheese Ziti al Forno,Fettuccine Alfredo

"Guests want value and variety, and whether they're looking to connect over a glass of wine and appetizers or they want to share a lingering meal with family and friends, Olive Garden now offers even more choices and ways to enjoy a freshly prepared Italian meal," stated Jay Spenchian executive vice president of marketing for Olive Garden.

Copy-Cat Marketing is not transformational nor is it lasting differentiation.  Olive Garden needs to vertically integrate the 5P’s of Food Marketing (Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability, Price) into the brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization.  Looking for success clues?  We have them for the grocerant niche. Give us a call.

Steven Johnson is Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions, with extensive experience as a multi-unit operator, consultant and brand/product positioning. Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions® visit or 

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