Apr 7, 2021 | Report Announcements

Chili’s positioning as the 3rd largest casual player by sales: digital, tech-forward; strong everyday value with good value for the money; great place to hang-out with family & friends; and a great bar atmosphere. Young families represent Chili’s primary target and corporate reports: the highest value scores across the category; plans to continue to incent through direct & digital as opposed to LTOs; and that its value mix increased post-lockdown. Chili’s is confident that few of its competitors can match its value offers (margin friendly 3 for $10, $25 meal for 2, $8 lunch specials & its popular $5 Margarita of the month) on a consistent basis. The menu strategy is to keep away from operationally complex LTO driven news, instead highlighting its craveable, core menu items (inspired by Texas) at a compelling value (reflecting quality & ample portions as opposed to low price points). To this end, the brand seeks to maximize preference for its core ½ lb. Big Mouth Burgers, Texas-sized ribs & sizzling fajitas in order to simplify operations and improve service times. A significant post-lockdown reduction in traditional media spend was replaced with cost-effective digital marketing (including a big online video focus) which helps better target a younger demo while also providing a better tie-in with its digital order platform and loyalty program. Digital media effectiveness (1-to-1 marketing) is fueled by consumer insight gleaned from: 8MM member loyalty & 2.6MM email databases; tabletop devices; app orders; and the integration of DoorDash into its POS system and e-commerce platform. Post-lockdown comp declines were softened by strong off-premise growth, an emphasis on value (3 for $10 & $5 Margaritas) and the addition of virtual brand (It’s Just Wings). Recent segment outperformance also reflects: an improved guest experience driven by investments in the quality & consistency of its products; loyalty program; and a simpler operational model. All-the-same, Chili’s unit level financial performance would certainly benefit from a higher check (pressured by its strong value emphasis) and an AUV more in-line with the segment average (maybe the virtual brands can help here). In conclusion, while Chili’s is moving in the right direction by distinguishing itself in a crowded FSR space with value and digital (i.e. the Domino’s of FSR), it must accompany this with higher AUVs and lower costs (digital access labor productivity & cost-effective digital marketing could help here) in order to translate this positioning into a winning long-term formula.

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