Ready, fire, aim

May 18, 2016

A recent syndicated article by Washington Post’s Sarah Halzack[1] dealt with the rise of fast-casual dining and its impact on the overall restaurant industry. Her conclusion is that, based on new industry research, fast-food and fast-casual restaurants “are essentially siloed”. In other words, with a few exceptions, their customers tend to stay with similar types of restaurants and do not cross-over.

But is that what the restaurants see? She says that they see instead headlines like “How Chipotle is killing McDonald’s”. With respect to that, she notes that Chipotle “might be better off not trying to emulate Taco Bell’s new breakfast menu, but instead trying to win over Panera customers.”

For those of us in competitive intelligence, we see here a classic case of skipping one of the first steps in a competitive intelligence assignment – determine who are your competitors – really!

In these cases, it seems that it took a third-party researcher to do the unthinkable – find out what a firm’s actual and potential customers see as its competitors, rather than what management or trade publications or strategy consultants or financial analysts know/guess is the situation.

You are warned.

[1] “What we get wrong when we talk about the fast-food wars”, Washington Post, May 11, 2016.



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