Jack in the Box 2023

Apr 21, 2023 | Insights, Restaurant Research

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Jack in the Box is well positioned to address customer cravings throughout the day and munchies at night (late-night leadership benefits from 24/7 drive-thru access & breakfast served all-day). From burgers to tacos to egg rolls to flat sour dough carriers, its menu is known for variety & innovation and is accentuated by a taco distinction that appeals to its key Hispanic demo (West Coast orientation). Although this is a regional system with almost 70% of its stores located in California & Texas, the brand enjoys leading QSR hamburger share in 7 of its 10 major markets. Its C.R.A.V.E.D. marketing approach seeks to drive upsell and add-on opportunities as a sustainable way to grow average check. A challenger brand positioning (seeking to go against convention & norms) is supported by culturally relevant marketing on social & digital and a digital marketing emphasis helps the brand overcome its dependence on pricier local TV advertising. Jack’s fiscal 1Q23 system comps increased +7.8% (+10% pricing/-1.1% traffic/-1.1% mix) with results attributed to: its hook-and-build menu strategy which leverages menu items like tacos, tiny tacos & egg rolls to increase items/check & add-on sales; higher staffing levels, particularly during late-night; improving service speed; and a reduction in service alert problems. Having said all this, it is notable that Jack is a regional player which lacks the scale of a national footprint. Also, sales headwinds are represented by hefty menu price increases taken in a weak economy and this is especially true given that most of the brand’s visits are represented by customers who profile as value conscious, though not necessarily low-income. A system worst franchisee unit-level EBITDAR margin reflects a sharp FY22 hike in food & labor costs – this is challenging as the system’s large exposure to expensive West Coast real estate and labor requires a business model able to generate a high pre-occupancy profit. In conclusion, while Jack has done a great job of reviving an iconic West Coast brand in a crowded field, it remains to be seen how the chain’s value equation will fare over the medium-term given a turbulent macro environment amplified through a problematic California lens.

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