I was able to attend several incredible workshops last Wednesday at The Market Research Event and will be posting about those over the next few days.
One workshop, “Finding Billion Dollar New Opportunities” was presented by Roger Thompson, Senior Vice President of Darden Restaurants. He took us through his story of how they developed their restaurant concept, Seasons 52.
The majority of the presentation focused on Darden’s strategy of finding a new opportunity. With over 90,000 brands in the restaurant business, he mentioned it was one of their greatest challenges to find something that had not been done before. "What that means," he said, "is that you have to look around the corners. This gives you better peripheral vision, which helps you anticipate and lead to new opportunities.” Roger shared one approach they found to help them shift their perspective at Darden. By focusing on the “high potential arenas,” they began to determine where the possibilities lay. You can see by the slide below that mapping their brands against consumer needs created one area to pop, “Fresh and Healthy.”
Darden Restaurants (which used to be a part of the General Mills group until 1995) has a 8% share of the “Casual Dining” business. Some of these concepts include Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Long Horn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze. And through their recent acquisition, The Capital Grille, they recently entered the “Fine Dining” business.
After developing 3 food positionings, then 9 healthful restaurant concepts, a new concept was developed, Seasons 52. I can’t wait until they open one in Dallas!