Resturant Chain Case Study

May 31, 2023

Navigating an Inflection Point

A restaurant chain came to MDRG poised for major brand growth over the coming year. This expansion meant not only new markets, but a transition into a new category. In the course of this transition, the client wanted to ensure that their brand continued to reflect what the ownership wonted, attracted new customers, and remained appealing to existing customers.

To achieve these goals, MDRG provided the road map to a successful Brand Position



Tapping into the consumer’s decision-making process through both System 1 and System 2 is what sets MDRG apart. In this study, MDRG deployed an online survey to 700 respondents and asked questions that would address the System 2 objectives of:

  • + Measure awareness and usage of the Client and their competitors
  • + Measure favorability towards the Client and competitors
  • + Measure importance of attributes on which category restaurants compete
  • + Measure performance of the Client and competitors on attributes (perceptual map)

In order to bypass what consumers think via rational thought processes and uncover some of the emotional associations of the brand and category, MDRG executed an Online Metaphor Elicitation exercise in the survey. These System 1 objectives included:

  • + Explore perceptions of client and competitors
  • + Understand restaurant experiences from an emotional standpoint
  • + Bring to light the white space and opportunity for positioning

Example of Online Metaphor Elicitation:

The two methods culminated in a recommendation for a distinct positioning for the client.


Let’s Dig In

4 key brand themes emerged in our Online Metaphor Elicitation Exercise

These themes represented the core brand characteristics that drew consumers to the restaurant, a potentially unique combination that could form the basis for positioning. They laddered down to more nuanced themes and functional benefits related to the atmosphere (energetic but relaxing), cuisine (distinct), and service (friendly and welcoming).

At the heart of these associations were three Core Metaphors: Connection, Container, and Movement. These metaphors helped validate and solidify the positioning territory suggested by the rest of the survey findings

These findings showed that the client landed firmly in the Spirted and Sporty category, but without alienating the family audience – a strong position that would appeal to a broad audience. This revealed that their path to success would include a slightly greater emphasis on being family-friendly, while still embracing their origins as a sports-watching destination.

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Topics from this blog: Brand Experience Case Study

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