Company Case 6 – Darden Restaurants: Balancing Standardization and Differentiation

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Allen McKinney MKT 101 02/28/13 Company Case 6 – Darden Restaurants: Balancing Standardization and Differentiation 1. Use the full spectrum of segmentation variables, describe how Darden segments and target the sit-down dining market? Psychographic Segmentation is represented by Olive Garden’s plan to build a dining experience around the concept of a fabled Italian family. Olive Garden’s marketing team learned that a primary customer insight shows that customers are as interested in emotional nourishment as they are in physical nourishment. Styling the restaurant as an Italian farmhouse, commercials that invite you to be “part of the family”, and training at their Culinary Institute in Tuscany has shaped a genuine Italian menu.…show more content…
They have worked hard to find where they can standardize (sharing the same technology to pace cooking and predict dinner traffic) and where the different chains need to maintain an outlook of independence and individuality to protect each chain’s loyal customers. Darden has positioned their restaurants to satisfy needs of consumers – being part of the family at Olive Garden, experiencing the taste of the west at Long Horn which is only available on the east coast, and the taste of wood-fired seafood satisfies the health-conscious demands of consumers in today’s environment. 3. Although Darden’s efforts to standardize across brands have contributed to its success, how might such practices backfire? Too much standardization could lead to redundancy in dining experiences. If what works well in one restaurant is applied to all the chains the perception by consumers of that feature being special or unique is lost. There is also a risk for the market to become so saturated with similar products that each one begins to lose its draw as an individual chain. There is no such thing as a one size fits all schemes that work across the board. Making sure that what sets each chain apart is the key to successfully segmenting. Also Too much standardization across the brands can lead to similar foods being created at each of the three restaurants and will lead to a boring menu. It can also lead to each restaurant getting away from what makes them unique, for example,

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