Your Favorite Brand, Coming to a Restaurant Near You

Is the recent news that Barilla plans to launch a chain of branded restaurants in the U.S. next year part of a trend among brands opening their own “brick and mortar” outlets?  A step up from the “pop up” store, establishing a retail outlet in a major market can increase brand recognition beyond the supermarket so it can stand out from its competitors, which include cheaper private label brands that continue to gain popularity.  

Chobani opened a store this summer in downtown Manhattan offering its Greek yogurt with a variety of toppings to strengthen its position in a rapidly growing market and increase its base of brand loyalists as did Dannon, with a store in midtown.  Dannon’s Yogurt Culture Company offers locally produced yogurts and customizable blends unlike the typical Dannon products we find on supermarkets shelves, satisfying a “consumer demand for freshness and customization” that can’t be provided by food manufacturers in a grocery store, points out Michael Neuwirth, senior director of PR for Dannon. Though not in a major media market, Smithfield Foods also opened its own Taste of Smithfield store in Smithfield, Virginia to support its hometown and test out new products.

What is significant is the formal foray into a space where packaged food brands rare venture.  Brands like Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and California Pizza Kitchen typically evolve from the opposite direction:  retail outlets to your local supermarket. 

Not every brand has the right or the budget to commit to a branded store, but I can think of a few types of products that could.  Products in the categories of bread, salad dressing, poultry, spices and jams are potential candidates .  The fact that there exists in New York  eateries dedicated to one dish or type of food (e.g., peanut butter, rice pudding, cupcakes) is evidence that there is a market for tasty creativity with a singular focus.  However, since a retail outlet can be an expensive proposition, brands can also look to other ways to forge new territory, such as partnering with chefs and restaurants (ala Newman’s Own and McDonald’s), having a presence in unexpected places like museums and movie theaters, or of course, branding a food truck, a marketing vehicle we still adore.

Will the Barilla and yogurt stores encourage Americans to eat more pasta or buy more brand-name yogurt?  We’ll be watching to see what happens.       

Courtesy of Marina Maher Communications LLC