corporate citizenship

Starbucks Former President: Why Same-Sex Marriage Support Matters

Posted by Kristen Van Nest on April 17, 2013 12:20 PM

Last year, Starbucks declared its support of same-sex marriage, which resulted in a boycott by the National Organization for Marriage. The coffee chain hasn't backed down one bit, however, as CEO Howard Schultz continues to blur the line between business and the personal lives of his millions of customers.

At a recent annual shareholders meeting, Tom Strobhar, a shareholder and founder of the Corporate Morality Action Center, an anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage organization, suggested the boycott had a negative impact on first quarter sales and earnings. The ever-outspoken CEO swiftly responded, “Not every decision is an economic decision... The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity."

Schultz then told Strobhar he was more than welcome to sell his shares and take his money elsewhere. While the remarks seem brazen, Starbuck’s stance on hot-button political issues and support of equal rights for its employees have been a part of the brand’s long-term strategy to increase internal brand engagement and decrease turnover. What's more, taking a position on causes that affect its workforce has had a positive impact on its bottom line.Continue reading...

chew on this

LYFE Kitchen, Clover Compete in QSR Race for Healthy Millennials

Posted by Dale Buss on April 16, 2013 02:24 PM

Thanks to the efforts of a handful of entrepreneurs, American fast food is moving from a form of nutritional epithet to add an entirely new dimension: a fledgling business model that uses the quick-serve platform to get better-for-you fare into the mouths of more willing consumers.

At the same time, not to be outdone, traditional fast-food chains are tacking heavily into more nutritional fare after several years of more or less playing at it. Taco Bell, for instance, has just announced its strategy to offer healthier menu options, while McDonald's is veering more deeply into wraps.

LYFE Kitchen is probably the best known of the cluster of promising better-for-you startups which also includes Clover, Veggie Grill, Tender Greens and Native Foods Cafe. New York Times Magazine writer Mark Bittman chronicled some of what these brands are doing.

"After the success of companies like Whole Foods [and] Annie's and Kashi, there's now a market for a a fast-food chain that's not only healthful itself, but vegetarian-friendly, sustainable and even humane," he wrote. "And, this being fast food: cheap.Continue reading...

brand extensions

Condé Nast Extends Magazine Brands into Bar and Restaurant Scene

Posted by Dale Buss on April 12, 2013 11:53 AM

Condé Nast is used to long lead times and attention to detail with the publication of its high-end titles including Gentlemen's Quarterly, Glamour and Vogue. But in those regards, printing a magazine is nothing next to rolling out an entirely new strategy of brand extension and enhancement in businesses that have little to do with publishing.

Still, Condé Nast has been plowing ahead with its plans to add bars, clubs, restaurants and even a fashion school in various high-profile locations around the world in order to provide completely new sources of revenues, to exploit its magazine and corporate brands in profitable new ways and to produce an ever-more-valuable offset to a traditional magazine-publishing business that—while still comprising a majority of Conde Nast's revenues—isn't a growth industry anymore.

"Our business can no longer be defined strictly as publishing, but takes the form of brand management," Jonathan Newhouse, chairman and CEO of Condé Nast International, told Business of Fashion. "We want to bring the experience of the publishing brands to end users in new forms in order to strengthen the brands and their relevance. Of course, we aim to do so profitably."Continue reading...

brand extensions

Ferran Adria Expands Brand as Celeb Chef Transforms elBulli Legacy

Posted by Mark J. Miller on April 4, 2013 11:38 AM

Spaniard Ferran Adria has been considered one of the world’s top chefs for decades, but it wasn’t clear what would happen with his famed gastronomic skills once his famed restaurant elBulli closed its doors in 2011. 

Now all those hungry for such information have got the scoop: Adria has founded “the nonprofit elBulli Foundation, a culinary think tank and visitor center,” which is scheduled to open in 2015, according to Bloomberg.

"We want to promote innovation using food as our channel," said Adria—who's a consultant on food innovation to PepsiCo, which calls him "the world's greatest chef" and put his face on a limited-edition Pepsi can, below—to Bloomberg.

“We have two missions," he added. "One is to keep the elBulli legacy and the knowhow and the buildings. The second is to create the creators. I hope one or two of the 30 creative people we get each year will be the next generation of leaders of the culinary revolution.”Continue reading...

big data

How Big Data Helps the Cheesecake Factory Create Happier Customers

Posted by Dale Buss on February 27, 2013 11:16 AM

It may not make your salad taste better, reduce your wait for a table or remove any calories from the creme brulee, but American restaurant patrons can rest assured that Big Data is on the way to make their experience of eating away from home a better one.

With alliances like IBM with the Cheesecake Factory, the providers and purveyors of overwhelming numbers are helping restaurant operators marry their traditional huge volumes of transactional data—such as sales receipts from customers and information about purchase orders to suppliers—with "unstructured" data to help them automate decisions that will improve food safety and quality, labor productivity and other aspects of their operations. The end result is supposed to be more-satisfied customers, greater revenues and fatter profit margins.

"It's about enriching the more structured data with unstructured data in order to gain business insight," Paul Chang, global leader for consumer-products strategy for IBM, told brandchannel. "If you can do that then you can automate these processes."Continue reading...

chew on this

Fast Food Chains Reboot Brands with New Images, Ads and Products

Posted by Dale Buss on February 21, 2013 02:02 PM

With American consumers still hesitant to spend on restaurant meals, the biggest QSR chains keep trying new tactics in what has become a bruising battle for shares of a stagnant U.S. market.

No. 3 Wendy's has just rolled out a new campaign that will spread its new logo and brand design to everything from product packaging to its stores to crew uniforms. No. 2 Burger King has switched ad agencies (after the plastic-faced King creeped everyone out) and is debuting a set of light-hearted new TV commercials that also emphasize new products. Last but not least, No. 1 McDonald's is attempting to reinvigorate a new-product pipeline that generated mostly disappointments last year.

Wendy's said its new logo will begin appearing on Monday in advertising, on product packaging and crew uniforms, in new restaurant signage and menu boards and in digital assets. "Wendy's brand transformation is re-energizing all of our touch points with consumers," said Emil Brolick, CEO, in a press release. "We're transforming our brand — from bold restaurant designs to innovative food that consumers want, to improved customer service."Continue reading...

retail

Walmart, U.S. Restaurants Feel the Pinch of a Consumer Spending Slowdown

Posted by Dale Buss on February 21, 2013 09:58 AM

In their on-again, off-again love affair with spending, the American consumer may just have hit the "off" switch again. Both Walmart and America's National Restaurant Association are warning about remarkable dropoffs in the trend for consumer spending over the last few weeks, with few prospects for improvement anytime soon.

And on Thursday morning, Walmart reaffirmed its alarm in a financial report that predicts flat same-store sales in the U.S. for the first quarter.

The latest revelation was that U.S. restaurant same-store sales rose much less in January than in December due to a pullback by consumers, according to a restaurant operator survey authorized by the NRA. The trend was worse for full-service restaurants than for quick-serve businesses, but the overall 1.1 percent rise for the month (versus a year earlier) compared with a 2.4 percent increase for December prompted alarm bells to go off.

"Operators are unsure of what the cause of the slowdown was," said Larry Miller, restaurant securities analyst at RBC Capital Markets and creator of the NRA's monthly survey, according to NRN.com. "They cited a laundry list of reasons, including weather, holiday shifts, gas prices and tax-refund delays."Continue reading...

brand wars

As Cracker Barrel Moves to Extend Its Brand, Kraft Says: Hold the Cheese

Posted by Dale Buss on February 5, 2013 04:55 PM

Kraft is moving to prevent Cracker Barrel restaurants from extending its store brand into American supermarkets, where Kraft's Cracker Barrel cheese brand has been a major player since 1954.

There was seemingly no big threat to Kraft or to its Cracker Barrel cheese trademark when Lebanon, Tenn.-based Cracker Barrel Old Country Store sold merely a few grocery items under the Cracker Barrel name at small general stores attached to most of its 600-some U.S. restaurants.

But now that Cracker Barrel has struck a major licensing agreement with the John Morrell Food Group to sell Cracker Barrel-branded food products through grocers and mass merchandisers, Kraft says it is concerned that the restaurant chain's brand expansion could create confusion among consumers — and thereby damage the Kraft line.Continue reading...

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