In New England, everyone's a lobster roll connoisseur. You can't shake a stick without hitting one, and some of my best friends are lobster roll experts. Heck, even I, a Florida native, overcame my lobsta-ignorance and revel in the joy of good lobster rolls, especially during summer. Gone are the days when I questioned why they aren't called lobster salad sandwiches. You just go with it. Everyone here can name their favorite lobster roll spot, or opine on which lobster shack's rolls are the most authentic. Those in the know are well aware that for high-end rolls you go to the North End's Neptune Oyster or the South End's B&G Oysters and pay $25 for their mouth-watering creations. The less lofty among us are just fine with James Hook's Best of Boston for $11.99, or one at Sullivan's in Southey for $9.95. But I'm not interested in any of those today; today is about lobster rolls gone QSR and Fast Casual!
Lately, the restaurant industry buzz is all about price increases in the wake of rising commodity and fuel costs. Operators are determined to cover their costs, and want stakeholders to know that profit is the goal - in addition, of course, to guest service. I understand the need to achieve financial goals and stave off downward-turning profit. And it's true that a price change will have the most direct bottom-line impact of any marketing or finance decision a company can make. But there are some instances in which a price reduction may be warranted.
One quarter into the year, it seems that the optimistic notes that January brought with it are a thing of the past, and restaurant reality has set in. Operators are extremely concerned about the double whammy of rising fuel costs combined with increasing commodity costs. Add in the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and it's a triple whammy. So what's an operator to do? If the murmurings I hear are any indication, pricing analysis is now on the front burner for many restaurant operators. While that's not the only option available, it seems that it's one of the most popular.
In my last blog, I promised the low-down on my recent restaurant pricing review meeting, and I'm here to make good on that promise. Having been through this exercise many times, I had a good sense of what to expect, but there were some new twists as well. What started out as a case of "the more things change, the more they stay the same" ended with some pleasant surprises.
This week I presented pricing data to a client and some of its franchisees as part of a pricing review. It was a good opportunity for a discussion around restaurant pricing, and now it's a good opportunity to share some thoughts on why restaurants should hold pricing meetings and how to conduct such gatherings.
As the Super Bowl approached and I thought about blog topics, I worried that it might be déjà vu all over again, but luckily we have some new twists this year. Clearly, marketers love the Super Bowl, and pricing nerds can love it, too. Of note for 2011 was Denny's decision not to offer another Free Grand Slam Giveaway, breaking from its past two years of making a Super Bowl splash. But that's not all - one of the other big topics, at least in my world, is the debut of Groupon and Living Social ads. And while it's not surprising that ads reflect up-and-coming or already-arrived brands, it was interesting to see a couple of my favorite restaurant pricing topics playing out in Brand Bowl 2011.
The breakfast buzz continues, with the latest excitement brought to us by Caribou Coffee. The bou's new line of breakfast sandwiches is making a splash, complete with nifty toaster-oven-like bus shelters to promote the offerings. Intellaprice studies breakfast prices frequently, so it's interesting to see how Caribou's offerings stack up, especially since most recent announcements have been at the burger end of the QSR spectrum.