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With more than 1800 restaurants spread throughout the country Darden Restaurants has become the largest full service restaurant company. Darden’s success lies with in its ability to create brands with similar operations as well as effectively differentiating and positioning their brands. Some of the ways Darden differentiated their brands was by creating restaurants that provide customers with an emotional as well as physical experience.
For example The Olive Garden, which is one of Dardens most promising brands and accounts for half of dardens annual revenues, focused on the concept of creating a mythical Italian family dining, hence their marketing phrase “When your here, your family”. Darden targeted the customers that wanted to experience an italian style dining atmosphere. Olive garden’s management worked directly with italian chefs to capture the authenticity of italian style cooking and food.
An example of effective marketing positioning is Red Lobsters strategy to develop a healthier style of dining as well as a more appealing menu. Red Lobster had to make some substantial changes when their sales dropped back in 2004. At the center of these changes was a concept that Red lobster referred to as “Stealth Health” which was a concept that prompted a development of a new menu based off wood-fired grilling. With one third of its new menu consisting of wood-fired grilled food, it helped bring in new customers who were interested in trying something new.
Although this concept may have drawn away its original patrons, they targeted a segment that was much more abundant. However, Red Lobster did its best to keep original items on the menu for their loyal classic customer. I also feel this concept was created based of the facts that a majority of the customer base is shifting to more healthier options when dining out. The “Stealt health” strategy is an excellent approach to provide for this shifting demographic.