- Chili's invited some loyalty members in Detroit to a night off from cooking, according to a press release. Chili's picked up these families in a branded bus, handed out branded school supplies and brought them to a local restaurant to enjoy a family meal. The tables had conversation topics such as, "Who is our spiciest family member?" to help stimulate a social experience. Attendees could also take a family portrait for their holiday cards.
- The restaurant used the hashtag #ChilisLove to share photos from the event on social media pages. The company also created a 3 for $10 menu aimed at budget-conscious families that want to sit down to a family meal, which is highlighted on a dedicated landing page on the company's website.
- The event helped promote a contest targeted at working families that includes the chance to win a year's worth of weekly dinners.
Chili's cited research indicating 82% of Detroit families can't sit down for dinner as a family each night. The company is using this insight to position itself as an option to help facilitate a family meal when it is too difficult for working parents to shop, cook and pick up kids from school. The event and the contest help draw attention to the chain's new menu items designed to appeal to families.
Chili's marketing team — headed up by Ellie Doty, who was recently promoted to CMO — has been positioning the brand around everyday value for customers, an approach that appears to be resonating as evidenced by increasing sales. Doty, who joined the company in 2017, and her team created the 3 for $10 menu and the $5 margarita of the month. Last year, the brand debuted a limited edition e-commerce shop with Chili's branded apparel for sale on WelcomeToChilis.com on Cyber Monday.
Chili's parent company Brinker reported positive income with total revenues in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019 at $834.1 million, up 2.1% over the comparable quarter in fiscal 2018. This at a time when restaurant chains experienced a three-year slump, according to a new report from Technomic. However, things are expected to turn around with an estimated $329.1 billion in U.S. restaurant sales for 2019, a 3.7% increase over 2018, as reported in Restaurant Dive.