January Competitive Analysis

January 2024


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Quick Highlights:

Month of the Mocktails | Amidst the surge of people embracing Dry January, several brands capitalized on the opportunity to cater to a wider audience by incorporating mocktails into their menus. Fleming’s, launched two new additions: the “Golden State of Mind” and the “Garden Gimlet,” offering patrons flavorful alternatives without the alcohol content. Meanwhile, brands like North Italia and Lazy Dog leveraged the power of social media and email marketing to spotlight their existing mocktail offerings, ensuring that their non-alcoholic options remained at the top of guests’ minds.

Applebee’s Date Night Pass | Applebee’s embraced their date night reputation with a new subscription pass. Their date night pass was available for $200 and provided guests with a $30 credit on food and non-alcoholic drinks for use once per week for 52 weeks, equating to more than $1,500 in value. Cardholders receive a physical card in the mail that is valid from February 1st, 2024 – January 31st, 2025 for dine-in or to-go. Date night passes went on sale on January 22nd and sold out within one minute. Applebee’s admitted the demand far surpassed their expectations with fans of the fast casual chain threatening to boycott on social media. To appease angry fans, Applebee’s announced they would be releasing 1,000 more date night passes in February. The caveat is those passes will be available for purchase via random drawing.

Health vs. Comfort | At the start of the new year, historically a wave of health consciousness sweeps through many people. Despite many announcements introducing new menu offerings from brands like First Watch, California Pizza Kitchen, and Denny’s, the addition of healthy choices seemed somewhat overlooked. However, amidst this culinary landscape, Sweetgreen stood out as a leader in this space. Through a collaboration with SoulCycle, they not only pushed nutritious options but also extended a generous offer of a complimentary first spin ride to their guests. Other brands went for a comfort approach with items like BJ’s Cinnamon Roll Pizookie, Chili’s Nashville Hot Chicken Crispers, CPK’s Korean BBQ Steak Pizza, and Denny’s Hershey’s Chocolate Pancake Puppies. This begs the question, were brands leaning into comfort food given the current economic state?

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