Thought Bubble is a regular feature on the Mintel blog highlighting multiple viewpoints on one topic from Mintel’s team of expert analysts around the globe.

TGI Fridays recently announced it’s “Endless Appetizers” summer promotion, offering patrons unlimited appetizers for just $10. While sharing is discouraged, it won’t be enforced, which presents an interesting moral dilemma. Is this an inspired offer or just a bit of marketing kitsch? Mintel invited two of its analysts from different sectors to weigh in with their thoughts.

Katrina Fajardo, Foodservice Analyst:

KatrinaMost people who have heard about TGI Fridays new endless appetizers are either clamoring for their keys to drive to their nearest location to take full advantage of the deal, or they are wondering if this promotion is a viable business plan for the struggling brand. How can TGI Friday’s employees indicate that a party cannot share their endless appetizers, while not actually enforcing their own rules that they literally just told to the party? In addition, isn’t this promotion allowing customers to come into the restaurant and pay significantly less than they would during a normal visit? But – perhaps the endless appetizers promotion was not what they were actually advertising, and instead they were promoting their brand. Think about it, when was the last time the media was up in arms about TGI Fridays? Exactly.

In general, the news from the full-service restaurant segment (which is where TGI Fridays is categorized) has been less than stellar. This crazy promotion has thrown TGI Fridays into the spotlight, causing consumers to take notice of the brand, which is a positive move in general. Also, full-service restaurants have suffered from cost-conscious consumers post recession; this promotion allows them to come in and enjoy a tremendous amount of food at a great price.

If TGI Fridays can at least gain new and lapsed customers through their endless appetizer promotion this summer, and keep them coming back, then it could be deemed a success.

Lynn Dornblaser, Director of Innovation & Insight:

Lynn-image-circle

While most seem to be concerned that patrons of TGIFridays will end up sharing their all-you-can-eat appetizers with their friends, I wonder if something else is going to happen. Will that group of friends, intending to go out for a meal and a few drinks, end up instead ordering an appetizer each, and then eating their fill (and sharing) all of that, instead of dinner? It does make you wonder if this move will cut into main menu sales. Why bother with the burger or the sandwich when you can just eat more?

However, the idea of pushing appetizers, via this promotion, does make sense. As consumers graze more and snack more (we call it a “Snack Society”), putting the focus on the appetizers could appeal to those younger consumers they are targeting.

Katrina Fajardo joined Mintel’s Foodservice reports team with a background that includes data analysis, presentations to restaurant operators and food manufacturers, and consumer behavior tracking. She is now involved in researching and writing reports that cover the broad, evolving world of Foodservice, including commercial, non-commercial, and menu exploration. Her focus is to create insightful and actionable reports that deliver valuable takeaways for clients.

Lynn Dornblaser brings more than a quarter century of product trend knowledge to Mintel. She applies her unique perspective on the market and new product development to tailored client research and extensive public speaking.

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