Food For Thought: 7 Ways Wendy’s Serves Up Newness

Food For Thought: 7 Ways Wendy’s Serves Up Newness - GSP

The No. 3 burger chain in the country just posted strong third quarter numbers. How are they doing it? Here are a few POP lessons and other ideas that our design team noted on a recent field trip to Wendy’s.

Find your target audience1. Find your target audience

It’s clear that Wendy’s has decided to go after the 44-million-strong millennial demographic. According to an article in Business Insider, “millennials would rather eat fast-casual than fast food.” So Wendy’s is putting Chipotle and Panera Bread on notice: they’re competing with them now. They also updated their main TV spokesperson/character to a millennial redhead. They’ve incorporated social media in their campaigns – and even make their customers part of the advertising by using their Facebook comments and tweets.

2. Go for impact

Mmmm, three-foot-tall burgers and biscuits! Larger-than-life shots celebrate your product and show you’re proud of what you have to offer. We loved the consistent approach: all brand focused and look, ma – no prices, just like a fast-casual restaurant would do. Plus, the images really grab the customers’ attention. Before they even reach the menu board, the customer has a great idea of what to order.

Great food photography sells3. Great food photography sells

As you can see from these images, Wendy’s is a big believer in well-styled food photography. When you show food this large, there’s no room to hide! A company spokesperson discussed the process with CNBC last year: “We supply the same ingredients to (our food stylists and photography crew) as our restaurants receive. We also require that they prepare and build the products to operational procedures. The big difference is how much time we take to get an appealing shot.”

Find your target audience4. Make the customer feel good for choosing you

Notice how the signage emphasizes “fresh,” “artisan” and “quality.” This is a company that’s proud of its ingredients. These great buzzwords help to create desire and make the customers feel good about their choices – not guilty about eating fast food. Bold, catchy statements take up almost 50 percent of the sign, so you know Wendy’s feels copy is a way to connect with the customer on an emotional level.



Find your target audience5. Price has its place: that ‘Right Price Right Size’ Menu

A majority of customers (especially millennials) have replaced three square meals a day with grab-and-go snacks and prefer to “graze”. Wendy’s takes advantage of this trend by offering a shareable 4 for $4 menu option with small drinks and fries, as well as junior-size burgers, salads and chicken nuggets. President and CEO Emil Brolick credited this snack size menu for Wendy’s success and said, “We are very happy with the early results, and we are meeting a consumer need for a compelling value with a high quality, unique offering.”

Find your target audience6. Offer “Taste Adventures”

“Today’s consumers are interested in eating food that fits with their lifestyle,” Lori Estrada, vice-president of culinary development, told Food Business News. “Sometimes they are seeking things like higher protein; so we may have a grain salad like a quinoa or a power turkey wheat berry salad. This thinking embraces two food trends important to millennials: unique, artisanal taste and portability. Note the variety: from ghost pepper fries and grilled chicken caprese on a focaccia roll to black bean burgers and pulled pork. Wendy’s already has 15 menu items that are gluten-free.

Find your target audience7. Design “sleek, contemporary image activation restaurants”

Wendy’s rolled out new store décor this year that they are calling “image activation restaurants.” The design emphasizes the customer experience and is something you’re more likely to find at a place where you want people to stay and hang out for a while. Except for the ordering process, it appears they’re trying to take the “fast” out of “fast food”. Features include lounge chairs and booths, warm wood tones, Wi-Fi and flat screens, digital menu boards and picture windows. And you can’t miss the big brand promise on the wall.

On Wendy’s website, CEO Brolick proudly states, “Wendy’s brand transformation is re-energizing all of our touch points with consumers. From bold restaurant design to innovative food that consumers want, this exciting evolution of our brand reinforces our mission to position Wendy’s as A Cut Above.”