When Arby’s introduced its newRoasters sandwich nationally on Sept. 3, the chain was embarking on a new era — one with a clearer branding strategy and increased menu innovation.
“This brand has had an identity crisis for the past few decades,” said Russ Klein, Arby’s chief marketing officer. “We’ve made the decision that we want to be a modern sandwich shop.”
On Sept. 30, the company introduced a “Slicing Up Freshness” advertising campaign, which highlights the chain’s freshly sliced sandwich meat. Other quick-service restaurants, like Subway, slice it before the meat reaches stores. Freshly sliced meats, Klein said, is and always has been a clear competitive differentiator for the Arby’s brand.
The chain’s “Good Mood Food” campaign, which launched in early 2011, was discontinued in spring 2012, he added.
Turkey Roasters are one facet of the new menu innovations taking place, Klein said. The sandwiches are served hot like the traditional Arby’s Roast Beef sandwich. They come in three varieties: Grand Turkey Club, Turkey 'n Cheddar and Turkey Classic at recommended prices of $4.29. $3.49 and $2.79, respectively.
On Sept. 6, Arby’s offered free Turkey Roasters at all of its locations from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in an effort to find more customers and brand advocates. During that time, the company gave out more than one million sandwiches, Klein said.
The roasters and rebranding are the result of a Boston Consulting Group study completed during fall 2011, Klein said. The study, conducted specifically for Arby’s, showed that the chain’s customers were “modern traditionalists,” he said.
“They’re not defined by age, ethnicity or gender,” he said. “They’re bound together by their value systems and their beliefs. They tend to skew a little bit older, and they tend to skew a little bit male … knowing who our consumer was a critical component of developing new product ideas.”
Turkey Roasters were a direct attempt to appeal to more female consumers, he said.
“Turkey had a number of positive attributes,” he said. “It’s a nice complement to roast beef. It also skews toward high-income households.”
Commodity costs, including the rising price of beef, didn’t play into Arby’s decision to introduce the hot turkey sandwiches. “We don’t really use the cost of good fluctuations to decide the types of products that will go on our calendar,” he said.
“The number one reason companies stall is that they fail to innovate,” Klein said. “We don’t want to be caught short-handed when it come to meeting our objectives.”
The company plans to introduce 12 new menu items during 2013, he said.
Atlanta-based Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. is holding its biannual company convention for employees and shareholders in Las Vegas Oct. 7-10.
Arby’s has 3,437 units, according to Nation’s Restaurant News’ most recent Top 100 census.