Buffalo Wild Wings

Feb 4, 2020 | Report Announcements

Buffalo Wild Wings (BWW) enjoys a unique positioning as the only national sports grill & bar concept (core brand equity around wings, beer & sports) where guests can enjoy a social, immersive and interactive sports experience that replicates a stadium experience (which can’t be duplicated at other wing chains like Wingstop). Essentially, BWW provides a very cost effective and convenient way to enjoy the game day with food much better than what is available at the stadium. The brand’s ongoing upgrade seeks to: (1) diversify beyond bone-in wings (and their dramatic price volatility) by creating new menu options; (2) leverage improvements to product quality, cook time & alcohol offerings in order to further differentiate from local sports bars; (3) communicate a more compelling reason for consumers to leave their homes in order to come socialize in-store in this day-and-age of on-demand video streaming & watching sports in “man caves”; and (4) broaden the brand’s appeal beyond sports fans by leveraging new menu items. New hand-battered chicken tenders, beer-battered chicken sandwiches and upgraded boneless wings (less breading and more chicken) broadens BWW’s appeal to younger diners and, given a growing level of wing competition, could help attract more guests for non-sporting events (including the lunch occasion). The chain further benefits from plans to increase its national advertising and its Blazin’ Rewards loyalty program which could drive 30% of tickets by the end of 2019. Further tailwinds include: a return of BOGO Wing Tuesday; to-go; a more margin friendly delivery solution; and plans to rollout its new Center Stage store design by 2021. All-the-same, it is notable that negative comps for the last 3 calendar years through 2018 reflects: a challenge with the brand’s value equation at a time when casual players improved their game; inroads into wing sales made by Wingstop and other competitors (driving the price of wings substantially higher); declining NFL ratings; declining mall retail traffic; and declining beer & alcohol consumption. Management’s own assessment is that BWW had drifted a little bit too far into casual/family dining and away from a focus on its core sports bar concept. In conclusion, BWW is in the early stages of executing a return to its roots around wings, beer & sports, but this time with a more nuanced approach to today’s market realities.

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