Marketing Strategies: Changing it up

I love my job as a server at Chili’s. I love interacting with customers and representing the Chili’s brand.

The one thing I don’t like about Chili’s Eugene? Our Chili’s is one of the oldest in our region, in terms of the image of the front of house. We still have our patterned tiled tables, old run down booth seats and hard bright color palettes, with neon signs hanging everywhere. This image worked back when Chili’s was one of the market leaders in the restaurant industry. However, as entrants into our market rapidly evolved, our customers wanted more, and competition (especially around the Eugene Chili’s) grew, Chili’s struggled to keep their customers.

 

Chili’s just recently launched their new “Fresh is Happening Now” marketing campaign and I love the re-positioning of the brand. In the commercials you see the newly remodeled Chili’s with the servers wearing the new “Fresh is Happening Now” shirts. We have our cool new Ziosk computers that assist with the service in the front of house and keep the kids entertained while mom and dad are trying to chat.

While our Chili’s did get a new “kitchen of the future,” we didn’t get the new “Fresh” look for Chili’s in our dining areas, the one place our customers take part in the Chili’s experience. I never really understood why our current location hasn’t been remodeled yet, until I spoke with one of my managers in order to understand the big picture for the future of Chili’s Eugene.

My manager and I spoke about how we have been stuck in a hard place since the entrance of BJ’s right next to our current location (along with a list of about 10 other major restaurant chains already existing), but not only that, we are attached to the mall so our rent is really high. This has hurt our profits with current customers heading over to BJ’s and this huge rent payment. In order to get our remodel, and to really represent the Chili’s Fresh campaign, we have to prove we can profitably have this location in Oregon. Did I mention we are the only one in the state? So representing this brand the right way is crucial.

After speaking with my manager about the future of Chili’s Eugene, I really thought about how hard it is to run a business. Our Chili’s is literally stuck between a hard place and a rock.

The positive side about representing the Chili’s brand in Eugene has been seeing the increase in customers since the Fresh campaign started. Krista Gibson, the CMO of Chili’s is who I believe to be the reason for this radical change in the positioning of Chili’s. Before this campaign, every new menu had the same standard format, we weren’t very present in television shows and I rarely saw a Chili’s commercial. Now we have brand new menus with a refreshing color palette and design, we were featured on the season premiere of “On the Menu,” where we had a cook create one of the new burgers on our menu, to go along with our tasty new improvements on our menu. Lastly, Chili’s has stepped up their television commercials, with the new Fresh campaign commercials airing during popular television shows such as “The Big Bang Theory.”

I am proud to be apart of a brand that has faced its high times, went through the lows and now is switching it up in a fresh way. I love growing with Chili’s as I move toward my career in marketing.

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