corporate citizenship

Pay-What-You-Can Concept Enhances Panera Brand

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 22, 2012 11:04 AM

The idea of running a pay-what-you-can organization is generally laughed at as a business model, but Panera is proving skeptics wrong. So far, the St. Louis-based company has three such eateries and they are turning a profit, according to the Chicago Tribune.

This week Panera opened its fourth pay-what-you-can Panera Cares location, in Chicago. Founder and co-CEO Ron Shaich tells the Trib that the neighborhood that it's the perfect community for such a business because it has “million-dollar townhomes and people on the street."

"When you walk in, it's the full Panera experience," Shaich, who hopes to open a new Panera Cares cafe each quarter, told the Trib. "When you go into a soup kitchen, the energy is so negative and the food is institutional and the experience is institutional."Continue reading...

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I'm Not Lovin' It: McDonald's Can't Get No Customer Satisfaction (Again)

Posted by Barry Silverstein on June 20, 2012 05:05 PM

The 2012 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is out and it demonstrates the kind of consistency that a fast food behemoth like McDonald's can't be too happy about. 

The ACSI's new ranking puts the burger-meister dead last in the "Limited-Service Restaurants" category, with a satisfaction rating of 73 percent. That puts McDonald's just below rival Burger King (75 percent), but considerably below Wendy's (78 percent). Pizza delivery company Papa John's was rated #1 in the limited service category with a satisfaction rating of 83 percent, an increase of 5.1 percent from the previous year. Interestingly, the company in this category with the largest drop in customer satisfaction from last year was Starbucks. Often touted for its customer service, the coffee house fell from 80 percent in 2011 to 76 percent in 2012. 

Unfortunately, the lowly ranking should come as no big surprise for McDonald's management; the company has ranked last in the ACSI since 1995. In fact, its current rating of 73 percent is a percent higher than last year, and 73 percent is the highest rating ever achieved by McDonald's on the ACSI.Continue reading...


Ni Hao, Hamburger King: Why Burger King is Playing Catch-Up in China

Posted by Abe Sauer on June 20, 2012 10:51 AM

Many more Chinese consumers are about to be able to have it their way, as Burger King has announced an "accelerated" expansion in China, planning 1,000 new locations via a new joint venture in the next five to seven years.

Some are wondering if The King might not be offering too little, too late. The question should be, what way, exactly, do the Chinese want it?Continue reading...


Cracker Barrel: Does Adding EV Charging to the Menu Enhance the Brand?

Posted by Dale Buss on June 19, 2012 01:02 PM

Cracker Barrel isn't the first roadside brand you think of when you think about cutting-edge technology. After all, the most prominent feature outside these restaurants that dot America's heartland are the rocking chairs that are for sale on the "front porch" of the Cracker Barrel entrance area before customers mosey in for chicken 'n' dumplings or other downhome hearty fare.

But that hasn't kept the Lebanon, Tenn.-based chain from trying to leapfrog not only the existing perception of its brand but automotive technology to attempt to round out its positioning. So Cracker Barrel is extending its 2010 commitment to providing electric-vehicle charging stations in the parking lots outside some of its restaurants.Continue reading...

brand extensions

Coming to Vegas: Nobu Expands Brand With First Hotel

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 13, 2012 11:55 AM

For decades, new Las Vegas hotel/casinos have been incredibly over-the-top and, let's face it, garish: a pyramid, a pirate-themed one, a mini re-creation of New York City, King Arthur’s castle, the list goes on. But now a casino is heading in the opposite direction by leveraging the Nobu brand to attract a new clientele.

Nobu Hospitality partners including Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro and Meir Teper, along with designer David Rockwell and principals from Caesars Palace, held a press conference this week at the original Nobu in New York City to reveal the concept for the world's first Nobu Hotel, set to open in Las Vegas late 2012.

The design for the Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace looks to bring the zen palate of Nobu restaurants to life — an oasis for well-heeled high-rollers to calm their nerves and enjoy the good life after making (or losing) more cash at the city’s many gambling tables.Continue reading...

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Are Food Trucks America's Tastiest Export?

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 6, 2012 01:11 PM

Food trucks have been fanning out across America, as the graphic above from the National Restaurant Association shows. But they're also starting to span the globe, bringing gustatory delight to Paris and London as artisanal food trucks, such as the Cantine California food truck in Paris, dispense tacos stuffed with organic meat (and brand USA) overseas.Continue reading...

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Burger King Ready to Ditch Celebs

Posted by Dale Buss on May 30, 2012 11:32 AM

The King is dead. Scratch that: he's back. Long live the King! Regardless of whether Burger King re-gains a long-term lead over Wendy's as the No. 2 U.S. burger chain — both of them trail McDonald's by a mile — the short-term renaissance of the brand has made things interesting in a QSR business that has lacked excitement lately.

Burger King correctly called that involving celebrities in its marketing would create buzz, visibility and interest. So in new ads running over the last few weeks, BK fans and non-fans alike have been intrigued to see familiar faces including Mary J. Blige and David Beckham, Sofia Vergara and Salma Hayek, even Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, shilling for the King.

The fast food chain says it will discontinue the celebrity-studded campaign promoting its new menu this summer. But in the meantime, it has helped create enough interest that Burger King's same-store sales have posted solid gains, while Wendy's have dropped off again, on a relative basis. Burger King once again, at least for a while, has usurped the "Avis" position that it gave up to Wendy's last year.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Asia Pulp & Paper Swipes Back at Greenpeace Rainforest Protests

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 30, 2012 10:02 AM

Greenpeace and Asia Pulp & Paper have been battling for years over the issue of brands using APP for packaging, as the eco-activists believe the company is one of many brands contributing to the deforestation of “critical habitats and last remaining biodiversity hotspots” by using what it sees as unsustainable packaging materials sourced by APP. 

Greenpeace's latest campaign against APP, via its global KFC protests, prompted the paper supplier to send us a rebuttal from Ian Lifshitz, Sustainability Manager for APP in the Americas.

“APP has been taking into account the critical issues raised by our international stakeholders, and we’ve announced important milestones in our business policies. Namely, on May 15, we announced the suspension of natural forest clearance in Indonesia, and that we will begin holding ourselves and our suppliers to the internationally-recognized high standards of HCVF (high conservation value forest)."Continue reading...

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