You can see in the graph above just how deep the negative stretch went.
Burke said the performance came even despite headwinds. In this case, weather souring two football playoff weekends in each of DRH’s three core Midwest markets.
So why wasn’t DRH buried by snow, like many of its Rust Belt competitors?
Burke said it came down to Buffalo Wild Wings’ renewed focus on guest experience, loyalty attachment, and the continued development of delivery, as well as “the early benefits of the new marketing, media, and latest brand enhancing initiatives around March Madness.”
Inspire Brands, Buffalo Wild Wings new ownership—a group formed in the wake of the $2.9 billion deal, and now includes Sonic Drive-In, Arby’s, and fast casual Rusty Taco—has pushed an experience-driven message since taking the reins.
New CMO Seth Freeman’s NCAA Tournament campaign was labeled “That’s March Madness,” and targeted dine-in traffic with spots that showed guests watching games in “sub-par conditions,” like on a tablet or sitting in the basement rocking a newborn. The previous football-focused effort, “Escape to Football,” was similar in direction. It placed characters in real-life scenarios, like being stuck at a PTA meeting, before “escaping” to Buffalo Wild Wings.
The vision is one Inspire Brands plans to refine: The idea Buffalo Wild Wings is a brand capable of providing far more than food and drink. It’s not a traditional casual-dining chain, but rather one that defines value as the price paid for the experience customers get, not deep discounts or promotions that need to be marketed each launch.
Since the March Madness promotions hit, which also included menu changes, like the twin patty All-American Cheeseburger and Ultimate Nachos, as well as enhanced serving options (no more paper boards and plastic cups, but aluminum trays, craft paper liners, and stainless steel cups), Burke said dine-in traffic turned positive and has stayed in the green.