Jack in the Box

Apr 1, 2022 | Report Announcements

Jack in the Box addresses cravings throughout the day and munchies at night (late-night leadership benefits from 24/7 drive-thru access) with a menu known for variety, innovation and a taco distinction. Although this is a regional system with almost 70% of its stores located in California & Texas, the brand enjoys leading QSR hamburger share in 8 of its 10 major markets. Its crave marketing approach seeks to drive upsell & add-on opportunities as a sustainable way to grow average check over the long-term. A challenger brand positioning (seeking to go against convention & norms) is supported by culturally relevant marketing on social & digital, following a shift in consumer consumption towards gaming & video content. Digital marketing strength helps the brand overcome its dependence on pricier local TV advertising (a function of Jack’s position as a regional player without a national footprint) and fast-growing digital sales have reached a 10% mix so far. Lower priced snacks & sides appeal to value seekers and drives incremental add-on sales from its more premium customers (without causing trade-down) and the quantity of new product news is roughly double the industry average, reinforcing the brand’s positioning around innovation. The system has enjoyed strong post-covid comp performance with 3-5 year annual comp guidance of +2% to +3%. Having said all this, the system’s large exposure to expensive West Coast real estate and labor requires a business model able to generate a relatively high pre-occupancy profit and explains the chain’s aversion to price competition. Despite a system high AUV, its EBITDAR margin remains well below its 2016 peak. Also, Jack’s check is up +36% since 2016 and plans to increase FY22 menu price by MSD to HSD at company stores (total average check increase expanded to +55% through 1Q:22) could be problematic if franchisees follow suit given the current economic condition. In conclusion, while Jack has done a good job of reviving an iconic West Coast brand in a crowded field, it remains to be seen what impact its premium positioning will have on traffic and sales given the current inflationary environment squeezing consumer income.

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