Why are some openings ‘grand’ and others less so?

Discussion
Dec 14, 2015

At every Chick-fil-A Restaurant opening, the first 100 customers win one Chick-fil-A Meal per week for a year. The promotion regularly draws crowds of overnight campers and heavy coverage by the local media.

Chick-fil-A has given away more than $26 million in food since its "First 100 in Line" promotion started in 2003. To assure a local focus, the giveaway is open only to adults residing in zip codes within about 25 miles of the restaurant.

"Each Chick-fil-A restaurant is locally owned and operated," explains the restaurant. "The First 100 celebration is our owner-operators’ introduction to the local community. We want to ensure those neighbors, whom we’ll be serving at that location in the future, have a seat at the table in welcoming and getting to know their neighborhood Chick-fil-A."

Many other stores and restaurants also hold grand opening celebrations with giveaways, raffles, DJs, celebrities and other fanfare. Few match the frenzy created by Chick-fil-A and many open without any fuss.

[Image: Chick-fil-A]

Here are a few examples of some grand openings:

  • At each opening, Trader Joe’s holds a "lei-cutting" ceremony and a mini-carnival with live music, food demonstrations, face-painting and a photo booth;
  • At a recent re-grand opening in Stirling, NJ, ShopRite offered the first 100 guests customized reusable bags filled with wellness products and a commemorative Chobani cup. Free Chobani Creations and gourmet holiday samples were offered to shoppers throughout the day;
  • For its new store in Glendale, CA, Dick’s Sporting Goods held a three-day grand-opening weekend with free t-shirts for the first 100 customers on Friday, chances to win special prizes for other early arrivers. Saturday and Sunday featured appearances by Los Angeles Dodgers legend Steve Garvey and Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick;
  • At a recent Dunkin Donuts opening on Hollywood Boulevard, the first guest in line was given a $250 DD Perks gift card and the first 50 a swag bag full of branded items. The full day included free samples, gift card giveaways and opportunities for photos with the brand’s mascot, Cuppy.

 

Can and should other restaurants and retailers aim to create hoopla around their grand openings similar to Chick-fil-A? Why do some stores and restaurants invest heavily in grand opening events and others not bother?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Many restaurants and retailers neglect this step which means they are essentially learning as they go along. The danger for those shops is drawing crowds to a bad experience. When you can’t guarantee that, why invest heavily?"
"There’s nothing like a great creative promotion done well. Publicity and buzz is an extremely valuable commodity, worth thousands and thousands of dollars in exposure and "free" advertising."
"Twenty-six million in free food is a pittance next to the buzz and free publicity that the overnight campers provide. It’s a great way to stand out in a very crowded field."

Join the Discussion!

9 Comments on "Why are some openings ‘grand’ and others less so?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Bob Phibbs
Guest
6 years 5 months ago

The key is how prepared their stores are for the grand opening. With the brands you’ve listed, there is a huge team of support making sure the brand looks exactly as it should. Many restaurants and retailers neglect this step which means they are essentially learning as they go along. The danger for those shops is drawing crowds to a bad experience. When you can’t guarantee that, why invest heavily?

Adrian Weidmann
Guest
6 years 5 months ago

Shoppers like to feel a sense of community. Chick-fil-A has created a brand awareness campaign with their consistency and scale of their openings. They offer a unique product alternative to the other established QSR brands. Their grand openings are designed to attract and introduce new customers to an alternative, so that Chik-fil-A will poach customers from other QSR brands. Particularly in the QSR space, I would bet the brand/franchisee relationship is much more productive and cooperative than other brand ecosystems I am familiar with.

When a new Target store opens, most folks already know what to expect and are drawn to the brand and its offering. A grand opening is just another way of saying we’re open for business now. The grand opening event simply doesn’t have any long term benefits.

David Livingston
Guest
6 years 5 months ago

From what I see many of these companies don’t really do a lot to create a big grand opening. The customers do it for them. If the company needs to spend a lot of money for a big grand opening, they have already lost. The best grand openings are those where the customer creates all the buzz. In Milwaukee Sonic and Krispy Kreme had huge openings that were initiated by the customers but the novelty soon faded. Places customers saw on their drives to Florida soon faded. Chik-fil-A is a bit different in that they connect well with evangelical Christians that are devoted to the restaurant in good times and bad. Very cult-like. Trader Joe’s as well, with a cult like following. When the customers throw a bigger party than the retailer, then you know you will have a winning grand opening.

Naomi K. Shapiro
Guest
Naomi K. Shapiro
6 years 5 months ago

There’s nothing like a great creative promotion done well. Publicity and buzz is an extremely valuable commodity, worth thousands and thousands of dollars in exposure and “free” advertising. I like the zip code limit on the Chick Fil-A promotion, keeping it local. Also note that here we are adding additional exposure and publicity with our discussion. That’s what it’s about.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
6 years 5 months ago

Twenty-six million in free food is a pittance next to the buzz and free publicity that the overnight campers provide. It’s a great way to stand out in a very crowded field. There’s a Chik-fil-A opening in my neighborhood this winter — I’ll be interested in seeing how my normally staid neighbors react.

Shep Hyken
Guest
6 years 5 months ago

The idea behind a “grand opening” is to make it grand. A big splash. Something to start the ball rolling — if not the momentum. Done well, the effort will spark awareness, which leads to revenue.

What bothers me about the “first 50” promotion is that the next 250 (and more) get nothing. Sure, create incentives for the first customers, but reward everyone that is showing up. Remember, it’s a promotional event. Not a contest to see who shows up first.

The other side of the coin is to have soft openings, where you ease into the norm. This works for stores and restaurants to work out the problems before a bigger/grander event, if they even have one at all.

The grand opening is about PR and recognition. Do it right, or don’t do it all.

Hy Louis
Guest
6 years 5 months ago

I accidentally came across a Chick-fil-A grand opening while visiting the mainland. The people camping out in the parking lot could care less about the free food. They were there because they were fans and this was not their first grand opening camp out.

A soft grand opening is for second class retailers, the boring, sterile kind that have multiple locations. Really good retailers can’t have a soft opening because there is a crowd of thousands waiting for the doors to open. If a retailer can draw thousands to a grand opening without advertising or giving anything away, then they have achieved success.

Many American convenience store chains have found success by blitzing their trade area with free gas and food giveaways — particularly where there is an abundance of small private independently owned gas stations. Grocers can fight back by offering quality, service, and community involvement. A small gas station has nothing.

Lee Kent
Guest
6 years 5 months ago

I have to admit that I rarely see grand opening events around my area. Yes, they may put up signs and maybe you’ll find some deals, but not so much in the hoopla department…until last month. Total Wine moved in. They advertised early and long. Had stuff going on all over the store. The first 100 visitors for the first week got stemless wine glasses.

They thanked everyone for having them in the neighborhood. Put on a wine tasting event for our local Rotary club and thanked Rotary for what they do in the community.

Has it made a difference? Yep. I will always choose to go there instead of another not so far away Total Wine.

And that’s my 2 cents.

Karen S. Herman
Guest
6 years 5 months ago

If the restaurant or retailer has a local focus and/or is locally owned and operated, as with Chick-fil-A, then hosting a unique promotional giveaway when opening a new location is a smart marketing strategy.

Chick-fil-A, in particular, has built buzz for the “First 100 in Line” giveway at each new location since 2003. This promotion clearly is working and offers uniqueness, exclusivity and a one of a kind experience to customers within 25 miles of the restaurant. It’s a great idea.

The Chick-fil-A restaurants I’ve visited clearly display a local community spirit and connection to schools and families. That connect begins by investing locally.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Many restaurants and retailers neglect this step which means they are essentially learning as they go along. The danger for those shops is drawing crowds to a bad experience. When you can’t guarantee that, why invest heavily?"
"There’s nothing like a great creative promotion done well. Publicity and buzz is an extremely valuable commodity, worth thousands and thousands of dollars in exposure and "free" advertising."
"Twenty-six million in free food is a pittance next to the buzz and free publicity that the overnight campers provide. It’s a great way to stand out in a very crowded field."

Take Our Instant Poll

Generally, are most grand openings by retailers and restaurants worth the time and effort?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...