Friday, January 22, 2010
Healthy Casual Dining
The Wall Street Journal has an article today about casual dining firms such as Applebee's, and others such as Starbucks, introducing healthier menu items. The article discusses how customers will react, as the firms balance taste vs. calorie count. Perhaps more interestingly, I wonder whether one of these large casual dining firms will break from the pack and shift radically to an "all-healthy" menu. After all, this industry is very crowded right now, and many firms are struggling to differentiate themselves. Why not stake out a unique position? It's risky... That's why. CEOs don't like walking away from some of their customers. Yet, the payoff long-term would be tremendous if a firm could be the first mover, and if it could really stake out a differentiated position. If none of the existing firms reposition themselves, it will leave an opening for a smart new entrant.