The success of a Tuesday night promotion has turned into a significant problem for Buffalo Wild Wings, one of the industry’s largest consumers of chicken wings. To bolster midweek traffic, the chain adopted a chainwide program of discounting wings on Tuesday nights, an arrangement that looked fine on paper. But the idea hinged on a drop in wing costs after the March Madness college basketball playoffs, and that decline didn’t materialize this year.
Margins were also crunched by the chain’s switch several years ago to a new way of portioning its wings. Instead of giving a set count of wings, BWW switched to providing a certain weight. Instead of providing 10 wings, regardless of their size, an order might contain eight or nine pieces, provided the weight was the same.
The industry took notice of the change, and many chains either made the same switch themselves, or at least contemplated it.
But the switch backfired, according to BWW CEO Sally Smith. Apportioning the wings by weight meant that some customers should be getting 8.5 wings, “and you can’t serve half a wing,” she said.
In addition, she indicated, some stores kept serving 10 wings to an order, regardless of their size, apparently for ease of operation.
Now the chain is rethinking both its approach to apportioning and how it can continue to discount wings on Tuesday without taking a painful profit hit.