Despite the spotlight on breakfast and snacking, lunch still accounts for a third of consumers’ restaurants visits. Compare that to 16% for snacks and 7% for breakfast, according to Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics, and it’s clear why full-service spots are searching for ways to compete for the midday meal. But in a daypart dominated by LSRs, the rules for full-service players are changing. So Buffalo Wild Wings adjusted its tactics in the past year. Despite the chain’s struggling overall sales, the results have “enhanced lunch business greatly,” says Bob Ruhland, VP of North America marketing.
1. Speed’s the name of the game
Introducing a 15-minute guarantee has helped make BWW part of the conversation for time-crunched diners. According to Ruhland, the idea for the Fast Break Lunch was rooted in research that many customers only have 30 to 40 minutes to eat lunch.
To enact this guarantee, a timer is placed at the table upon ordering; if the timer goes off before food is delivered, the guest will receive their next lunch for free. “[This] differentiates what is pretty much a commodity at that time of day,” says Ruhland: time. And it manages guests’ expectations while also bringing an element of gameification to lunch.
2. Don’t ignore strengths
In an attempt to compete with the clock at lunch, it can be tempting for FSRs to downplay signature offerings—especially those less convenient to eat. For a time, BWW removed its signature wings from the Fast Break Lunch menu, assuming their messiness would be a turnoff for guests in business attire. However, the chain quickly retracted that choice when a flurry of customer feedback convinced BWW to put wings back on the lunch menu, which is balanced with more traditional lunch choices like salads and wraps.
3. Marketing alterations
Ruhland says BWW looks to lunch in particular over its other dayparts to get new customers. The chain focuses its creative marketing on what Ruhland calls “week parting” for lunch—occasions that he says are typically selected on the spot more often compared to dinner occasions. When buying media spots, the chain promotes lunch Monday through Wednesday “to make sure that the proximity of when we [send] the message is close to when we’re looking for someone to take action on the communications.”