This case focuses on a marketing manager’s search for new Spanish food import products to be developed that target a younger millennial consumer, with the goal of strengthening/broadening the corporate restaurant brand of Chef José Andrés
Marisol Plata is the Senior Brand Manager for ThinkFood Products, José Andrés's curated line of co-branded premium Spanish culinary staples and gourmet foods imported to the US from the renowned chef’s favorite sources. Products are currently distributed across the US in natural grocers, supermarkets, gourmet wine and cheese shops, and online distributors (LaTienda.com, Amazon.com). The product line was created to elevate the cooking and preparation of Spanish cuisine by using the products José Andrés loves and endorses. As such, the products appeal strongly to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who want to cook or prepare Spanish gourmet meals at home.
Managing a chaotic creative process and struggling with the operational balance of art vs. science.
Joe Raffa is an Executive Chef at ThinkFoodGroup, the restaurant group inspired by the creative leadership of Chef José Andrés and his Spanish culinary excellence. The development team is composed of very creative individuals who are not always the most organized. Joe wants to know how would you control the chaos of last minute ideas and changes? He shares a vignette from the Las Vegas grand opening of their China Poblano restaurant to illustrate the chaos; José likes to walk into the restaurant with his pink and blue highlighters, slashing menu items that do not work and demanding new ideas be implemented immediately - in this case, just 2 hours before the grand opening. How can the development team sustain this creative tension while still innovating their culinary products and maintaining the operational effectiveness to drive the bottom line?
Designing the Beefsteak to-go packaging to cap the meal experience while still delivering on convenience
A lot of thought has gone into the experience of eating vegetables at Beefsteak, José Andrés’ new fast casual concept. However, the focus on vegetables--from how they are cooked to how the meal is assembled--poses a challenge for Beefsteak. How do they translate the fun and fresh dining experience into a tasty meal that holds up overtime and still entertains? Michael’s challenge is in developing packaging that is both functional, optimizing the flavors and textures of every ingredient, and embodies the Beefsteak brand and desired experience for the on-the-go consumer. How can packaging extend the store front into a lifestyle?
Developing content is at the core of Spoon’s operations. It drives growth of their user base, which impacts revenue potential from sponsored ads and partner content. As Managing Editor, Spencer Dukoff is faced with defining the process for both selection and creation of quality content, a challenge made more complicated as Spoon’s volunteer contributor network grows.
How should Spoon use their available resources to determine the best type of content to feature on the site and get it into production quickly?
Spoon’s editors use WordPress as a content management system (CMS) with a plan to build a proprietary CMS in the future. Spencer’s editorial team publishes 75 articles per day from more than 100 submissions from a wide contributor base of thousands across 450+ campuses.
How can the editorial team keep pace with their current production volume and maintain quality and contributor relationships in a growing organization, while staying lean at HQ?
Spoon is built around the work of unpaid student contributors spread across hundreds of college campuses. These contributors are central to Spoon’s strategic mission in that they not only produce revenue generating content, they also act as brand evangelists, and through their own experiences, maintain relevancy for Spoon’s audience. To ensure Spoon’s longevity and continued expansion, Spencer Dukoff, Managing Editor, needs to know what motivates contributors beyond monetary incentives.
What can Spencer and his editorial team do to support the productivity, success, and engagement of every chapter community as well as individual contributors?
Consumer retention is vital to Spoon University’s growth and success. Access to Spoon’s user base provides value for sponsors of content. The attention Spoon draws with one-off, viral videos indicates a wider appeal and potential to grow that base, but often results in difficulty converting potential new users to loyal subscribers.
How can Spoon facilitate continued engagement with content to grow audience trust in the brand and deliver value for sponsors of paid content?
Spoon University's posts reach thousands, often millions, of people on their social media platforms. Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube all appeal to different audiences. To remain relevant, Spoon needs to leverage all media channels effectively.
How should Spoon use and create content for each of the platforms on which it operates to speak to their unique audiences and form a comprehensive social media strategy?
The idea for Spoon University developed in response to a social problem—college students’ lack of food-related knowledge. A community was then borne out of the production of a campus publication. Since then, involvement of college students in the co-creation of Spoon content has been vital to the success of the business. Thus, information about the college demographic and the community phenomenon created around Spoon chapters is necessary to direct content and platform decisions for continued growth. As a web-based company, there is plenty of potential for Spoon to use and develop tools to track and aggregate user data, but with student contributors actively in place across 450+ campuses, Spoon may also be well positioned to conduct research in the field. CEO Barth wants to know: What is the best way for Spoon to measure their impact on your college campus?
As a digital media company, Spoon has an opportunity to reach far beyond its roots in the university arena and is beginning to explore the idea of a “Spoon City” model to target primarily post-graduate/young professional city-dwelling foodies. Given the success of Spoon’s user-generated content model, interests beyond food may be an additional possibility. Diversification into new verticals such as travel, lifestyle, entertainment, gaming, etc., are all ideas Emily Pope, Spoon’s Audience Development and Partnerships Manager, is hoping to explore.
How can Spoon leverage its existing model to cover new and interesting topics for similarly motivated audiences?