What makes a company successful?...

... delivering products and services that are relevant and create impact among consumers.

I combine my expertise as a Marketing executive in a Fortune 500 company and my passion as an investor to find the Companies that I think have "cracked the code" with consumers. Advertising does work. When I see a new product that fits relevant consumer trends, and that is supported with a campaign that I find particularly shrewd and innovative, I know that Company is potentially a great investment.

One of the great investors of all times, Peter Lynch, recommends to "buy what you know". You watch TV, go to the supermarket and walk around everyday. Observe... look around: what you see can make you money in the stock market. Now, let's be clear: a Company is not good just because it advertises. What we have to look for is great products supported with -and enhanced by- great advertising. The principle is simple: if something is good enough to draw your interest, it will be of interest to millions of persons just like you.

It is my goal to share with the reader my findings in the world of marketing which I think will turn into great returns for investors. Profit from it!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

“Monkey wants my burger!” So do I…

I think we are looking at a tasty opportunity here. A few months ago, I started to see on TV some clever –and quite appetizing!- commercials from what for me was a little known restaurant chain: Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (RRGB). These commercials caught my attention. I had seen Red Robin restaurants here and there when travelling around the country, but I had never had any interest in visiting one of them. I didn’t know what they were about, so I assumed they were just another one of those fast-food joints that dot our malls and commercial areas. Likely, nothing special. Suddenly, I see this fun and irreverent TV spot that describes a rather interesting gastronomic offer: the Banzai Burger. A burger with, among other things, teriyaki sauce and grilled pineapple. Well, there’s a thought! And this burger was offered by a restaurant that claimed to specialize in a concept that I found rather captivating: gourmet burgers. See, if you are like most Americans, it’s likely you’ve been embarked for a good part of your life in an inspiring and not quite yet fulfilled search: the quest for the perfect burger. I know I am! And what I know is that I usually go from disappointment to disappointment in that quest. Burgers are mainly the monopoly of the dull fast food chains, which seem to make a very deliberate and concerted effort to ensure that the burgers they serve you are as underwhelming as possible and as distant from the mouthwatering ones they show in their advertising as they can. Most casual restaurants also include burgers in their menus, but apparently consider them the undeserving underlings of their gastronomical line-ups: “Burgers? Please!! Just toss in a mundane beef patty with some lettuce and tomato in a bun, plenty of greasy fries and call it a day”. Have you noticed that, even though at some of restaurants they even ask you how you want your meat cooked, you invariably get it in just one way: burned, dry and tasteless. In this context, here it comes this restaurant chain, Red Robin, that seems to understand that there can be creativity behind the way to prepare a burger, and that also understands that there are people –lots of people- who are willing to pay a premium for a great burger experience. In my case, the advertising worked and, intrigued, I decided to pay them a visit. Now, as I have indicated before, good advertising is not the only condition to profile a potential great investment. The company has to deliver on its promise. And this is exactly the reason why I decided to write a posting about Red Robin. During my visit, they delivered in spades. The Red Robin restaurant created a great impression from the moment we stepped in: the place just emanated this fun, positive and optimistic energy. The decoration was quite lively, but not loud. The place was just fun, modern and clean. Even though the place was packed –good signal!-, we were promptly taken to our table. Our waitress, Samantha, was young, outgoing and very well trained. When she knew this was our first time at Red Robin, she took us through the menu with excitement and conviction, and offered to bring an order of their famous steak fries for us to try, which she later did along with a side of Ranch sauce that, according to her, most people enjoyed with the potatoes (they were great indeed!). The menu was a burger-lover’s dream: alluring burger creations that make taking a decision an unduly tough process. Even the drinks were intriguing and different. After we ordered, and during our meal, Samantha was always attentive, making sure that our experience was great. I can go on and on, but let me just summarize it this way: I was genuinely impressed with Red Robin. The whole experience was just great. But what I found more striking was not the quality of the food –which was superb-. It was the people. The Red Robin people were really charged up. Their service was caring and genuinely warm. And that is gold. For me, the attitude and disposition of the employees in a Company is one of the best indicators of its future and potential, for at the end it is people who can create and build success. It is the cook making sure that the burgers are well done and tasty; it is the server taking care of the customers so they feel comfortable and welcomed; it is the managers, keeping the environment fun and exciting. That is what I witnessed at Red Robin.
Red Robin has a lot of room to grow: currently they have around 380 restaurants in the US and Canada, far from saturation. This shrewd advertising campaign is going to dramatically raise the awareness and interest in Red Robin among the huge segment of casual diners in the US, and those who visit will not be disappointed by the great experience offered by the restaurants. This is, in my view, the start of a great investment story. Get in before the monkey takes your burger!


Anonymous said...

Rafael, thanks for the terrific blog on the Red Robin campaign. We are the ad agency that created it and love knowing there's an appreciation for the kind of work we do. We do believe in the power of good marketing and too often feel it is last to be credited for positive financial results. Thanks again.


gmplumbing said...

Rafael, thanks for the terrific article on the Red Robin campaign. We are the ad agency that created it and appreciate the kind words. We do believe in the power of good marketing and the positive results it can have in sales. Thanks again.