The “Lifestyle Brand” Formula: Authentic Connections and Passion in the Restaurant Industry

The “Lifestyle Brand” Formula: Authentic Connections and Passion in the Restaurant Industry
  • Today’s consumers expect more from their restaurants than just food.

  • With brands like Shake Shack and Taco Bell, how can your restaurant become a “lifestyle brand”?

On this Foodable.io session, brought to you by Kabbage, Host Yareli Quintana explores with &pizza, Pincho Factory, and Intelligentsia what it means to be a “Lifestyle Brand.” As well as how to push past just serving food with panelists who pour their passion for their brands into effective communication and marketing.

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9 of the Top 10 Most Loved Pizza Brands are Fast Casuals

9 of the Top 10 Most Loved Pizza Brands are Fast Casuals

There are about three billion pizzas sold in the U.S. every year, proving that consumers certainly will dish out that dough for the beloved pizza pie. 

The sector continues to thrive, even during a recession. 

There used to be a sharp divide between the QSR and casual dining chains in the pizza category, but an influx of pizza-focused fast casuals have emerged. All of which want a pizza of that pie. 

The fast casual format certainly suits the pizza category. With today’s innovative kitchen equipment, pies can be cooked in minutes. Pizzas can be served quickly and are usually inexpensive. Not to mention, they are customizable. 

So it’s not surprising that the majority (9 to be exact) of the top 10 Most Loved pizza brands are in the fast casual segment. 

How is this list curated? 

Foodable Labs, through the Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI), analyzes more than 167K restaurant and hospitality brands and over 220 million global restaurant consumers across 500K foodservice locations. Sentiment Scores, in particular, are measured by consumer sentiment on food, service, and overall brand experience.

Check out the top 10 list below and let’s take a closer look at the top three pizza chains

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Fast Casual Insiders Share Their Brand Identity and Future Goals

In this episode of On Foodable Weekly, our host Paul Barron sits down with the founders and CEOs of three of the 12 fast-casual brands thriving in the industry. These brands have been able to sustain themselves through a significant downturn (5.4%) for the category. So we find out what they are doing differently to remain successful.

Randy Dewitt from Velvet Taco, Nedal Ahmad from Pincho Factory and Michael Lastoria from &pizza, stopped by our remote set in Chicago to speak candidly about their brands.

 “So, what are you doing that you’re sustaining when you start seeing other concepts loose ground?,” asks Paul Barron.

The founders of Velvet Taco, a Texas brand which serves international flavors in taco form, and Pincho Factory, a Florida brand that serves two menus simultaneously, made up of everything from plantain burgers to kebab salads; admit they are not doing anything too different.

Dewitt who plans to grow Velvet Taco’s dedicated team within the next five years, manages and shares resources with seven other concepts including– Whiskey Cake, Mexican Sugar, and Sixty Vines. He assures that “extending open hours to let more people discover the brand” is something they are doing different. 

Ahmad, who claims his most mature store is up 18% and youngest store is up 10% over last year’s numbers, focuses on simply maintaining a positive experience for his Pincho Factory guests.

“Happy people equal happy guests. And the rest sort of takes care of itself,” said Ahmad, who is working on scaling Pincho Factory’s culture while protecting the soul and authenticity of the kitchens, within the next five years.

On the other hand, &pizza founder reveals that he allocates his resources to making sure his employees, or “tribe members,” as they call themselves, are getting better at certain disciplines.

“I’m not a restaurant guy. I’m not a food guy… I didn’t come from the space. I’m an advertising guy. And it for me, it’s about investment in our team, our people…,” assures Lastoria. “You can’t ever rest on the success you had today, the success you had in the past, so really forward-looking.”

Watch the episode above to learn more about what these brands are all about and what sets them apart!

Social Restaurant Visits Jump Over 5 Million: What Does That Mean for the Industry?

On this episode of “On Foodable Weekly,” host Paul Barron highlights the restaurants that have grown the most in the past month and what that means for the industry as a whole. We will also look at Del Taco’s brand performance and its biggest competitor: Moe’s Southwest Grill.

According to Foodable Labs, the restaurant industry continues to show an increase in growth. This growth is illustrated through the analysis of real-time data signaling a brand’s visibility across social media platforms. One of the big indicators of restaurant industry health is SRV or Social Restaurant Visits. A social restaurant visit is an action a consumer takes, whether it is a mention, photo share, or “check in” on a social media platform, referencing a restaurant’s location either in a post or within the post’s geo-metadata.

“If volume on conversation is up, that gives us a indicator that potentially we could be seeing either sales shifts or traffic in restaurants moving up or down,” Paul Barron said.

Foodable Labs has added another measurement known as Facebook and Twitter Combined Industry Visibility. Are people talking about going out to eat and are they engaging with top brands? Currently, the total industry visibility month-over-month was somewhat flat, with a slight increase in interactions, unique users, and units identified in the month of October over September.

Looking back at June 2016, the industry experienced the lowest number of interactions of the year to date, with numbers of interactions at 54 million and the number of unique users at 31 million. Contrarily, October showed continuous growth, although slow, in the industry with interaction figures reaching 71 million and unique users reaching over 42 million.

Growth Within the Industry

Restaurants showing notable SRV growth in October over September 2016, include:

  1. Tender Greens jumps to the No. 1 spot with an 8.82 percent SRV growth.
  2. Chick-Fil-A steals the No. 2 spot this month with a 5.11 percent SRV growth after not making the Top 10 list back in September.
  3. Arby’s has been consistent in its ranking month over month, staying at the No. 3 spot since August. Its SRV is currently at 4.92 percent.
  4. Shake Shack, which has been on the list before, is now at the No. 4 spot with a 4.87 percent SRV growth.
  5. Freshii drops from the No. 1 spot to No. 5 with just a 4.82 percent. SRV growth month over month
  6. &pizza is a new entry in the Top 10 list, coming in at the No. 9 spot with a 4.27 percent SRV growth.

An important takeaway from this data is total SRVs for the industry jumped up in August, September, and again in October by over 5 million.

Top Performers

Two brands that prove our case are top performers Del Taco and Moe’s.

Here’s what Foodable Labs found:

Del Taco

  • Same store sales growth for 12 quarters
  • New market and new menu item penetration
  • 68.48 percent increase in overall Foodable Labs score

Moe's Southwest Grill 

  • 36.4 percent of Chipotle guest crossovers
  • Overall higher engagement than Chipotle
  • 50.87 percent increase in overall Foodable Labs score

Watch the full episode to learn more!