Buffalo Wild Wings 2023

Sep 25, 2023 | Insights, Restaurant Research

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Executive Summary

Buffalo Wild Wings (BWW) enjoys a unique positioning as the largest sports bar brand (4th largest casual chain) which is famous for its wings flavored with 26 B-Dub sauces & seasonings in ascending order of heat. Well-established brand equity around wings, beer & sports is extended by offer of burgers, sandwiches and salads. BWW replicates the social & interactive energy of a stadium with wall-to-wall high-def TVs, creating a cost effective and enjoyable place for guests to watch games and hang-out with friends and it is notable that this experience can’t be duplicated by Wingstop. BWW’s ongoing strategic objectives: (1) leverage menu items beyond wings (and their dramatic price volatility) in order to broaden the brand’s appeal beyond sports fans; (2) improve product quality, service speed & alcoholic beverage choices sufficient to further differentiate the brand from local sports bars; and (3) portray a compelling environment to prompt consumers to leave their homes in order to come socialize in-restaurant in this day-and-age of video gaming, on-demand video streaming and watching sports in “man caves”. While BWW’s primary value equation reflects an offer of a fun & affordable way for consumers to attend simulated live sporting events, the chain also emphasizes price point deals which have been helped by a recent and significant drop in wing costs (although wing costs remain substantially elevated compared to the 5-year average). While a growing off-premise mix has extended the brand’s market reach, it has hurt margins because these orders typically do not include high margin alcohol sales. Further, BWW’s challenge during these challenging economic times remains to convince young sports fans that the experience of watching the game in-restaurant is worth the added expense vs. the cost of ordering-in (DoorDash/delivery) and watching the game at home with friends. This ongoing challenge of establishing pricing power (contributing to persistent comp underperformance), aggravated by a high bone-in wing & off-premise mix, translates into significant COGs segment underperformance. In conclusion, while BWW enjoys considerable brand equity as the largest and perhaps most iconic sports bar chain, there remains more work to convince young sports fans that the chain’s dining experience is worth the price premium over Wingstop delivery.

Buffalo Wild Wings Market Share Graph

Order Report

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