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Differentiation In Food

As I look at classic offers which have defined a business, a great way to start is with the offer  / USP which built up Domino’s Pizza since it is so often quoted as a fine example.

“Fresh hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less… or it’s free.”

There are so many reasons why this is such a great positioning statement.

Looking At The Domino’s Classic USP Using The 7 Big Questions

Let’s look through the lens of the 7 big questions of differentiation.

There’s “the what” – fresh hot pizza

There’s “the how” – delivered – you don’t have to make any effort

There’s “the where” – to your door

There’s the when – in 30 minutes or less

And finally we return to “the what” – the risk reversal of “or it’s free”.

The Domino’s Classic USP Template

You can see a template for crafting these positioning statements here in the Dominos example.

[what] [how] [where] [when] [what risk reversal]

It’s also very notable for what it doesn’t say.

What The Domino’s Classic USP Doesn’t Say

The pizza may be fresh and hot – but that doesn’t sound too demanding since there’s nothing about it being delicious of made from the highest quality ingredients.

The USP doesn’t include an indication of who, either in terms of who the customer is or who the supplier/staff are a bit different from the Spearmint Rhino offer since there are many people you just wouldn’t want a lap-dance from.]

Is it marketing hype or does it need to be designed into the culture of the organisation. I think it’s the second because everything needs to be done quickly to meet the big double whammy which made the offer so successful – it’s quick and it’s guaranteed.

The Irresistible Offer Also Looks At The Domino’s USP

If you want to go deeper into the logic of crafting statements like the Dominos USP then I recommend that you read an excellent book called The Irresistible Offer by Mark Joyner.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

Grom Ice Cream – Is It The Best?

I have just come back from a week’s holiday in one of my favourite places, Viareggio on the Tuscany coat in Italy and I discovered Grom ice cream.

And what a discovery it represents because I had some of the best ice cream ever.

Rich, creamy and full of flavour.I’d love to say that there were no calories in it as well but I have to admit that after over-indulging, I am struggling to keep my belt buckled at the same hole.

I love Italy and one of the best things about it is the ice cream. So much of it is yummy.

But Grom is special and definitely worthy of a mention on my differentiation blog.

I am nervous of differentiation by being better – what my friend Ian Brodie calls vertical differentiation – because it is easy to claim, difficult to prove.  In a world where we have become increasingly sceptical buyers, claims of “the best ice cream you’ve ever tasted” aren’t seen as irresistible promises which make you want to try but hype.

Grom Ice Cream

Grom are a chain of ice cream shops that started in Italy in 2003 in Torino and they now have over thirty stores in Italy and have opened more in Malibu, New York, Osaka, Tokyo and Paris. None in the UK yet but hopefully that will happen.

Grom are dedicated to using the finest ingredients in their ice creams and even have their own farm to provide fruit.

You can learn more at the Grom website.

What Makes Grom Ice Cream So Special?

There are a lot of ice cream shops in Viareggio and as it’s a resort we go to regularly, we’ve probably tried them all.

Several things attracted us to Grom.

First, it was straight opposite our hotel, the Grand Hotel Royal and it has replaced the wedding shop that must have been there twenty years. Grom wasn’t there two years ago when we were last in Viareggio and human nature is to want to try something new.

Second, there always seemed to be a long line of Italians queuing up for their ice cream fix. We ignored it on our first day and went somewhere else we liked but by day two, the Sunday we couldn’t resist. It took us about 20 minutes to get served through no fault of the four young women serving who were working hard. It was just that busy.

I wanted Bacio – one of my regulars – and I thought I’d try Crema di Grom (with biscuit and chocolate chips) but they’d sold out of the Crema. They had the next day too which increased my determination to try it before we came home.

The Basis Of Grom Ice Cream Differentiation

It’s differentiation by what. The ice cream is superb. In some ways this is vertical integration based on being better rather than horizontal differentiation.

Looking at the website, it seems the flavours change with the month which is a great idea. I want to go to Viareggio to see the famous Carnival in February and now I want to go because Grom do Zabaione ice in the winter.

It was also differentiation by how many. The social proof of seeing so many Italians queuing up for so long was very powerful. This popularity does have a downside. We had a 15 minute wait to be served on the second visit before we adjusted our thinking to having our ice cream when it was quiet.

Grom are also strong on environmental issues, an impression I gained from the store and the website although I can’t say that influenced my choice.  My strategy canvas was dominated by the quality of the ice cream but they did lose our business several times. The first because we wanted to treat ourselves to an ice cream sundae and the second because the flavours on offer didn’t include a regular favourite.

Is Grom Ice Cream The Best?

I’ve always loved Vivoli in Florence, ever since we first discovered in over twenty years ago. I’d never seen a place with so many great flavours and so busy but its clientèle does seem to be mainly tourists. Do go there if you are in Florence, you won’t be sorry.

I also love La Sorbetteria Castiglione in Bologna which is well worth the walk away from the main tourist centre.

In some ways I prefer the image of an independent ice cream parlour than a chain. Somehow it’s more authentic to believe that the ice cream is being made in the back room but I will be looking for the Grom ice cream parlour in every town we go to in Italy.

Grom ice cream is that good.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

Housebites : A Different Kind Of Takeaway Food Service

Saturday night is takeaway night in our house so I was very interested to hear about Housebites, a new deluxe takeaway food service which is about to burst onto the scenes today 12 September 2011.

The Problem With Traditional Takeaway Food

Takeaway food is usually easy to order and often quite cheap but it’s often not very good.

And if you have dietary issues, you worry about what’s gone into it.

Housebites Is Different

The unique selling point for Housebites promises:

  • the easy convenience of a takeaway with the restaurant quality food delivered to your door
  • with the food prepared by personally chosen local chefs
  • a chance to interact with the chef
  • feedback through social media

Has The Housebites Concept Changed?

A quick search on the Internet suggests that the Housebites concept has changed slightly since it was first conceived and promoted in 2010.

Originally it seemed to be focused on hosted dinner parties or as a public supper club (think Come Dine With Me where you don’t have to do the cooking?).

The video makes it clear that you don’t have to go anywhere – Housebites will deliver their freshly cooked food to you.

How Housebites Now Works

  1. Go to the Housebites website at www.housebites.com and enter your postcode – it’s London only at the moment
  2. Browse the menus by chefs in your area by day
  3. Choose the number of main courses, sides, starters, desserts or drinks you want
  4. Decide when you want it delivered
  5. Checkout and pay
  6. Wait for your meal to be delivered
  7. Give feedback to the chef and to other Housebites customers
  8. Come back and order again the next time you want a gourmet takeaway

The Differentiation Factors

This gourmet takeaway service is crossing two sectors:

  • good, local food which you have to go out to a restaurant to enjoy
  • the easy convenience of a takeaway

This is therefore differentiation by the what and where factors – great food prepared for you but eaten at home.

It’s also building up on the differentiation by who factor as it gives local chefs a chance to build up their own local celebrity status.

Let me explain.

Housebites -What’s In It For The Chefs?

The chefs who have joined Housebites include professional chefs with experience at The Ivy, Fifteen, Le Caprice and Bluebird as well as amateur gifted chefs. Andy Oliver, a 2009 masterchef finalist is one of the people behind Housebites.

So why are good chefs getting involved?

It seems that it’s not much fun being a station chef in a restaurant which is an impression I’ve gained from watching programmes on restaurants on TV. Low pay, boring tasks and being shouted at in the organised chaos of a busy restaurant seem to be the norm.

Housebites gives the chefs a chance to design menus, buy ingredients, prepare the full meal and get feedback from customers while they fantasise about one day owning their own restaurant.

Since the failure rate of new restaurants is terrible, this gives the chefs involved in Housebites a chance to build up their own local reputation and to develop a group of loyal followers.

Looking At The Three New Business Risk Factors

In Will Your New Business Succeed I looked at three risk factors – demand risk, competitive risk and capability risk.

It’s difficult to predict a strong demand for anything in these times of austerity cuts and falling living standards but I think there’s demand for a better priced takeaway service provided the prices are kept in check.

Takeaways have lost some of their traditional custom as people have cut back but also picked up business from those people who used to eat in restaurants regularly.

Housebites have positioned themselves as a middleman between customers who want food and chefs who can provide it. This type of service can work very well (think eBay) but success relies on building up a critical mass on both the demand and supply side.

Housebites may be first but there doesn’t look to be anything to stop a competitor from imitating the Housebites idea and competing harder and faster for customers and chefs.

WeBuyAnyCar.com used brute-force TV advertising and an irritating jingle to drum its brand name into the minds of the public but competitors have jumped on the bandwagon with similar sounding names. Mind you they may well be promoting their rivals who own the number one position in the minds of the market.

It will be interesting to see how much marketing muscle Housebites can put in to build up brand name awareness. It’s started well with a one-page article in the Sunday Times Style magazine yesterday.

On the capability risk, if you make a promise of restaurant quality food to win preference over traditional takeaways and you charge a premium price, then you’d better deliver.

I understand that Housebites selects its chefs carefully and in the London area, it has been testing the concept with offers of free meals. This is encouraging and the social media feedback should reward the chefs who do offer great food.

I suspect that scalability is a potential problem both as the individual chefs get busier and as more chefs are brought on board. The roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings I cooked last night was pretty good, even if I do say it myself. It was even on schedule. I’d have struggled to cook anything else and even professional, experienced chefs must run into trouble when everything needs to be done at once.

What Do You Think About The Housebites Concept?

I hope Housebites succeed because I believe that it is a different business idea which brings benefits to the customers who want to experience better food without having to leave their homes.

What do you think?

Let me know by leaving a comment.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning