Homecooked meals are essentially a luxury in today’s world of modern conveniences and cooking could potentially be a hassle for many folks. Bob Evans provides a service where families can come to breakfast, lunch or dinner and decompress or being their day. Bob Evans has convenient locations across the Midwest and the Eastern side of the country. Bob Evans was a staple for many families to include baby boomers and continues to identify methods for sustainability in an ever-changing world.
I. The Case Recap
Bob Evans is a restaurant chain located in 149 locations or 18 states across the country primarily in the Midwest and the Eastern half of the United States providing breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The primary customer of Bob Evans is baby boomers and the company built their entire business on the baby boomers demographic. Many of the Bob Evans restaurants started their operations over two decades ago and are competing in a saturated marketplace of restaurants chains such as Denny’s, Chilis, and Applebee’s.
Bob Evans ended their long-standing relationship with Chicago Creative Partnership in exchange for the Brunner advertising agency out of Pittsburgh to modernize and reinvent the Bob Evans brand. Bob Evans has consistently spent over $18 millions dollars in the past and is looking for big rewards with the new company by bringing the brand to the new era with the anticipation of new sustained growth.
II. Problem Identification
The primary problem with Bob Evans is their primary customer base is baby boomers, therefore their target segment is rather limited. Many of the other segments are unaware of the brand or are unaware of the existence of Bob Evans restaurants.
III. Root Problem Components
There are three main issues or problems contributing to Bob Evan’s failure to grow in the current market such as: 1) the aging baby-boomer demographic, 2) sustainment of current customers, and 3) inability to grow new customers.
The aging baby-boomer demographic is a problem because the current market is aging and thus may not go to Bob Evans as frequently. The food is designed for baby-boomers, which are essentially hearty meals and proportioned as hearty meals.
Bob Evans is focused on the sustainment of current customers with the décor and food options, thus alienates any potential new customers.
The inability to grow new customers is a problem because the younger generations are not focused on quality as much as quantity. Many parents are focused on balanced wholesome meals for their children and will elect to cook at home.
IV. Marketing Mix
Bob Evans is a family style restaurant offering home cooked meals and family style dining with breakfast, lunch and dinner choices. Bob Evans provides exceptional customer service and Brunner has provided research substantially proving the customer service is above reproach. Bob Evans receives many kudos and accolades for their exceptional customer service.
Bob Evans has a price point that is under $10.00 for many of their menu items, which equates to roughly $35.00 to $40.00 for a family of four. The price is in a great price range for many families. Bob Evans also offers coupons and has a promotional deal where the price of children is $2.99 for a meal.
Bob Evans has 149 locations across 18 states across the Midwest and Eastern half of the United States. They promote their inhouse stores where customers can buy many country accented pieces for their home. Customers can purchase the sausage products in many big named grocery stores such as Walmart and Safeway.
The promotion of Bob Evans consists of the use of email with “BEmail” to inform their current customers of any deals or current products that may be appealing to their current customers. Bob Evans has community nights, which encourages a connection within the communities they reside and brings in a lot of foot traffic.
Bob Evans employs many, many people in their restaurants, manufacturing of their product and on their farm in Ohio. As apparent with the Bob Evans culture from the video, staff is not only staff, but a member of the Evans family.
V. Social Media
The article discusses the utilization of “BEmail” to promote their products with customers and as a notification process of any upcoming deals or savings. The email notification system informs current customers of any recipes that they can make in the comfort of their own home.
Bob Evans utilizes other entities such as Facebook to market their family style of eating meals. Bob Evans utilizes videos encouraging families to set down the phones or other devices and engage in conversation, without the distraction of a phone call or e-mail. Bob Evans uses Facebook to market their current products such as pastries or pies and encourages customers to come buy one for their next family get together. Bob Evans reminds everyone why it is important to sit down at a table together to share a meal.
VI. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT)
- Bob Evans utilizes the umbrella branding technique because they attach the same log and name to all their products (Iacobacci, 2015). The brand is easily recognizable due to many of their products such as their sausage product is available in many grocery stores across the country.
- Family style dining where they encourage family to be present in the moment and to reconnect with the people in their lives.
- Understanding that people lead busy lives and value convenience in the modern age by encouraging their busy professionals to order online and pick up the meal on the way home. Their online ordering system helps many organize and plan their lives accordingly.
- Many families are meeting at Bob Evans and sometimes those families will not see each other for extended period of times, which means usually someone wants to give a gift to a family member or friend. Bob Evans recognize the value in having a store where customers can buy items or collectibles as a gift or even for their own home.
- Competition is strong among the market and Bob Evans is known for their breakfast items but offers lunch and dinner options. Perkins also offers many breakfast items including lunch and dinner options. Bob Evans is competing with other restaurants known for their lunch and dinner items, such as Chilis, or Applebee’s.
- The primary demographic customer is the baby boomer generation, meaning that other age groups do not enter the restaurant. The other age groups are essentially left out and are unaware of their product offerings, or do not care about the products.
- There is longevity for many of the employees, thereby the assumption is that members of the executive team are people that moved up in the company. Promoting within is not horrible, but the lack of diversity with outside talent can contribute to the lack of growth and vision with marketing Bob Evans.
- The store décor is rather the same and has not changed in many years. Bob Evans is known for the red barn, but it is possible it could benefit from update modern country feel with the incorporation of rustic themes. Rustic country décor is flying off the shelves and the store could use some updates.
- Bob Evans can benefit from the expansion of their online ordering system with the incorporation of a delivery service. Many of their stores are located near busy shopping areas, which equates to increased traffic. People may not have the time to spend in traffic during lunch breaks or on work commutes.
- Bob Evans is in the community and could benefit from many collaborative partnerships towards children. Hold a fundraiser in the restaurant for a local children’s hospital or a local nonprofit where children benefit. Holding the fundraiser would allow a variety of customers to experience the food.
- IHOP has the kids eat free idea to bring in the younger customers, so why not incorporate it into Bob Evans. Parents come in and children 8 and younger eat free, which would encourage the families to bring their children into the friendly family atmosphere.
- Bob Evans offers hearty down-home family style meals, but many of these meals are essentially very familiar to people that are used to these types of meals. There is a huge push for Americans to change their diet and eat of plethora of other foods. Bob Evans should change their menu and offer alternative options such as organic wholesome foods and meals without additives.
- Perkins, Denny’s, and IHOP offer many of the same products offered by Bob Evans and have the same price point. Perkins is available in areas, where there is not a Bob Evans, hence they have more locations, which is a threat to Bob Evans.
- People can order food preparation kits online that provide wholesome organic ingredients. People want to know how to cook their food and offer great meal options for their families.
- Several places can capitalize on the country lifestyle, but the décor appears tiresome and not as eye-catching other décor in other restaurants. The building itself is a red barn but needs a modern spin onto the barn itself. Other restaurants are updating their décor as time progresses to draw in the younger crowds.
- The baby boomer generation is aging and with the aging population comes a decline in customers as they cannot get to Bob Evans as often as they would like. Bob Evans marketed towards the Baby Boomers but must consider the other age segments as they move away from Baby Boomers to the younger generations.
VII. The Alternatives
Bob Evans has a couple of alternatives to consider when bringing and retaining new customers into the store. Eating out is a luxury and can be rather costly for many people. Offer a free dessert, where people can take it home and eat it later with the purchase of a gift card or meal.
There is an unknown behind the scenes cost for products in stores because there is a manufacturing and distribution cost associated with the product. Bob Evans should offer buy 1 Bob Evans product get 1 free, or 2 free for a specific amount of time. Possibly during the holiday seasons where people are inside more due to the weather limitations.
Catering options are huge and imagine if people had the opportunity to cater during the Superbowl, a retirement party, or any other large event. Fried chicken is popular among people and is guaranteed to be a huge hit. Offer incentives and rewards for people who utilize Bob Evans as a catering company.
The expansion to delivery for their customers is huge and is a necessity because people are just too busy to go a restaurant. The Bob Evans company must investigate testing the market with the implementation of delivery options and into forecasting to determine if the idea is worth long-term funding (Iacobacci, 2015).
People in general are looking for conveniences and the same can be said for any potential customer that just do not want to go to the restaurant or just cannot fit into their schedule. When people have delivery options it makes their lives easier and they search out for companies that provide the service. Bob Evans has an opportunity to capitalize on a market where people want homecooked meals but do not have time to pick up items at the grocery store and prepare meals from scratch. People and families lead such busy lives with activities and everything else, where families have such a little time to have homecooked meals. Bob Evans must identify that people value convenience in their busy lives and a delivery service is the right solution.
- Iacobacci, D. (2018). Marketing Management. (5th. ed.). Stamford, CT. Cengage.
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