Consumer research told P.F. Chang’s China Bistro that its diners didn’t know what was going on in the kitchen. Its new Farm to Wok campaign was designed to shed light on a strength: “Our most frequent guests didn’t realize the extent of the fact that everything they’ve been eating through the years has all been made from scratch in our stores,” says CMO Dwayne Chambers. So after 20-plus years in business, P.F. Chang’s finally is “clueing customers in to what was important to them.”
Inspiration over authenticity
Guests are growing cynical of buzzwords like authenticity, says Chambers. So the chain went the reverse route. “All of our dishes are inspired by different regions of the world, [then] customized to the palates of the people of the U.S.” Featuring a country in dish names helps convey that P.F. Chang’s offers more than a traditional Chinese joint.
The power of photos
Knowing that almost half of consumers are influenced by in-store promotions, a fact supported by Technomic’s Flavor Report, the chain introduced new menu covers (pictured). Each of the four jackets shows a deconstructed dish to give a sense of transparency, says Chambers, as well as support the menu’s claim that it uses only clean ingredients.
Marketing outside the four walls
P.F. Chang’s puts wok cooking on display at farmers markets, offering free food and prizes. Images of the new menu are projected on sides of buildings at major intersections in large cities at night, while promoters hit the streets incentivizing folks to learn about and try the menu. Videos on social media show the science of woks and farms where the chain’s ingredients are sourced.
Staff as brand ambassadors
In addition to menu jackets, in-store marketing is promoted through staff. Wok the Line, a training program in which new hires shadow all aspects of the operation, brings front-of-house employees into the kitchen to learn how to cook with a wok, to help bring that experience to guests. Runners are encouraged to comment on the smell of food as they serve, and servers are urged to talk about the menu’s history.
Going forward, “Everything we do from a menu strategy standpoint has to be centered and based on this food philosophy very explicitly,” says Chambers. Continuing to branch out beyond Chinese, P.F. Chang’s now is trialing Indian-inspired fare. The chain also is carrying the Farm to Wok theme forward with new Garden to Glass cocktails, each featuring regionally sourced orange blossom honey.