Buffalo Wild Wings - Marketing

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Jonathan Yorke

STRAT 09: Principles of Marketing

Winter 2010

Dr. Robert Ference

University of New Haven

February 1, 2010

Buffalo Wild Wings: Exploiting a Niche in a Highly Competitive Market

The restaurant industry has seen a decrease in sales over the past few years in conjunction with the overall economic downturn. However, optimism is high for this industry as sales are expected to reach $580 Billion. Due to the level of sales, the restaurant industry expands across so many different segments with fierce intersegment competition.

Buffalo Wild Wings & Weck was invented by Jim Disbrow and Scott Lavery in Columbus, Ohio in 1982. One evening, both had a food craving for Buffalo Wings but were unable to find any in the Columbus area. Jim and Scott developed their own Buffalo style sauce and began serving wings out of their restaurant on the Ohio State University Campus in 1983. The restaurant was a hit on the Ohio State campus and expanded to eight restaurants by 1993, with one location being a franchise. In 1994, Sally Smith came aboard and expanded the company to 35 locations and mastered the plan for franchise expansion and Initial Public Offering. Initial Public Offering occurred in 2003 at a time when 300 restaurants are open across the country that year. An additional 200 locations are added by 2008 with over 600 restaurants currently in operation.

The question was recently posed to me about how a company like Buffalo Wild Wings could be so wildly successful? The answer is simple. Buffalo Wild Wings understands its target market and has crafted both its image and product around this audience.

Buffalo Wild Wings competes with fast-casual to casual sit-down restaurants and local sports bars and neighborhood restaurants. Primary examples of the competition are national franchises that would be included in this segment. Examples would be TGI Fridays, Chili’s, and Applebees, to name a few. These restaurants are recognized nationally...