Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
14 August 2017
Applebees brand admits failure. Now what?
I’m never shy about my distaste for the Applebees brand or its stores. But I’m giving the restaurant chain this. At least it’s coming to know who it is for and not for.
In call with analysts, Applebees president John Cywinski says the brand is ending its effort to attract Millennials. Instead, the Applebees brand reverts to its original target audience, Middle America.
In that effort, Applebees is axing some of its new menu items, bringing others back and refashioning its décor more appropriate for its longtime target audience. It’s also closing 160 Applebees and IHOP locations.
“Applebees went half-pregnant. It aims to attract Millennials through menu items and décor. Not with the brand itself.”
The Applebees brand did too little to change
The restaurant chain now realizes it doesn’t have brand permission to be for Millennials. Have you been in an Applebees? Its stores once felt like you were in somebody’s living room. I hate it. But that’s intentional. The Applebees brand fashions itself as the neighborhood place.
For Millennials, that’s a turnoff. It wasn’t just anybody’s living room. Applebees is your parents’ living room.
There are other problems. Applebees went half-pregnant. It aims to attract Millennials through menu items and décor. Not with the brand itself. The Applebees brand would have to completely transform itself to work for that audience. The brand stays the same, with only noise around it evolving. That’s a recipe for disaster. The façade says you’re for a certain demographic. But your brand doesn’t.
Will this turnabout work? It’ll be better because the way the Applebees brand stands now, it has permission for a certain demographic. But long-term growth might mean going back to that younger demographic. If that’s the case, then Applebees needs a complete rebranding effort. Not a half-assed one.
Parkland shooting Tom Dougherty, CEO - Stealing Share 19 February 2018 Parkland shooting survivors call us all out It’s pretty easy criticizing Millennials. You know, they’re lazy. Have no work ethic. Growing up in the age of the iPhone, they pay attention less than a...
iPhone X with AT&T Tom Dougherty, CEO - Stealing Share 15 February 2018 Upgrading to an iPhone X? Don't use AT&T Upgrading to an iPhone X sports its share of problems. Especially when dealing with AT&T. Like many who upgraded, I paid a nominal fee and traded in my...
LA Times Tom Dougherty, CEO - Stealing Share 9 February 2018 What's to become of the LA Times? Do you subscribe to a daily newspaper? Judging by the state of print media, I’m guessing few of you do. That’s why the purchase of the LA Times by billionaire Patrick...