Applebee's is arguably one of the most recognizable chain sit-down restaurant in and out of the United States. They've been around for a long time, making them hard to miss. In recent years, however, the chain's reputation has taken a hit due to low sales and negative customer reception. In response to this, Applebee's has decided to take a different approach to fix these issues.
According to CNN, the restaurant brand has adopted a different brand strategy that's different from their many competitors. While other restaurants are more focused on healthy food with better ingredients, Applebee's is instead hammering home comfort food and drinks at a low price. The idea is to target stress eaters who often turn to comfort food as a way to cope. Inside the U.S., this strategy has proven successful; their sales increased up to 7.7 percent in the third quarter of this year to set a record in 14 years.
The company had previously gone the healthy route, but found that doing so was actually hurting their profits. This was due to focusing more on those less likely to visit an Applebee's than those that would go without hesitation. By figuring out their target demographic—people from multiple generation groups and families—Applebee's was able to go back to what they do best- making cheap food and drinks that most anyone can afford.
There are many ways that Applebee's focused on stress eaters to regain lost profits. Given that about 15 percent of sales are dedicated solely on alcohol, the restaurant chain held many promotions that had their drinks selling at ridiculously low prices. They also put more value on food such as chicken tenders, pasta, and all-you-can-eat riblets.
The biggest emphasis is not just value, but also experience. Applebee's wants their customers to see cheap drinks and yummy food plastered about on and off social media. That way, they are then more likely to want those exact things and go to Applebee's as a result. Granted, they do still serve healthy food- it's just not nearly as big a focus as their comfort food. After all, judging by their recent numbers, comfort food is clearly what they do best.