Saturday, March 19, 2022

Chili’s Grill & Bar Rewards Members want a Song


Restaurant brands that vertically integrate meals, menus, and products into a cohesive offering are rewarded with a higher check average, happy customers, top-line sales, and bottom-line profits. Companies that defer, to a simple store as an option miss understand the ‘halo’ benefit that grocerant niche consumers derive from an integrate platform.

That said, the team at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® broke out in song upon hearing that Chili’s Grill & Bar will sell limited quantities of shirts, hats, socks and more to celebrate its 47th birthday. Now how many of you know just what song they were singing?  That’s right “I want my Baby Back Ribs”. Now regular readers of this blog know that success does leave clues.  Here is one clue no company should ever over look, give customers what they want.  Now you can do that even in a new formant.

So, Chili’s Grill & Bar wants customers to celebrate its birthday in style this year. How with its first online store,, where it will sell Chili’s-branded merchandise including shirts, hats, socks, drinkware, pins and stickers while supplies last.

Now, the launch coincides with Chili’s 47th anniversary and is intended to help build the brand and engage with guests, said SVP of Marketing Michael Breed. Its 10 million rewards members will get first dibs on the swag via an email blast Sunday morning.

While, Chili’s has been producing limited runs of merch since 2018 for use in giveaways on social media or around the holidays. It has learned that guests love the stuff, which has included a Chili’s sweatsuit, a Skillet Queso bomber jacket and Chili’s-scented candles, according to Johnson that as well was a feeble attempt at full brand integration.

In a Battle for Share of Stomach

Are you Playing for Fun 

Or Are you Playing to Win

Some of the items have been just as much of a hit with current and former Chili’s employees, known as Chiliheads, as they have with fans.

“Anytime we would put anything out there for a giveaway or a social giveaway … people would see it and just say, ‘How do I get that, I want one of those,’” Breed said.

That enthusiasm led the chain to make branded gear available for purchase for the first time. Breed said the merch aligns with Chili’s position as a fun brand that consumers recognize and love.

“It has a steady spot in the culture, and it has for years,” he said.

Items will include T-shirts that say “Hi, welcome to Chili’s” in ’70s-inspired lettering, a button-down emblazoned with the Chili’s logo, and fanny packs that resemble the limes from the chain’s signature margaritas. The products range in price from $10 to $60.

“It’s going to be fun to see what really resonates the most,” Breed said. “There’s a couple T-shirts in particular that I want to go get before they’re sold out.”  Here is our point, its not fun its business and focusing on consumer touchpoints at the point of all branded transactions is key of engagement.

The gear is available in limited quantities, but Breed said it won’t be long until the store is restocked with a new drop. The company plans to unveil lines for Mother’s and Father’s Day, for instance, and will do others tied to holidays or other special days for Chili’s.

Breed said the trend is an evolution of the days when casual-dining restaurants would sell T-shirts at the host stand. These days, merch drops are more tied into social media, where they generate engagement and allow brands to connect with fans outside of the restaurant.

“[Social media] is just a place that we’ve found such an engaged audience that you kind of take that idea from back in the day of a T-shirt display, and now you can really have a lot of fun with it,” Breed said. Let’s ask one more time.  What is more social that SONG?  Elevating consumer touchpoints dives interactions, top-line sales and bottom-line profits.

Success does leave clues. One clue that time and time again continues to resurface is “the consumer is dynamic not static”.  Regular readers of this blog know that is the common refrain of Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  Our Grocerant Guru® can help your company edify your brand with relevance.  Call 253-759-7869 for more information. 

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