I found this interesting read about the slow demise of sandwich chain Subway which I thought you might enjoy.
It’s common to see once-popular brands slip back a few notches over time, as trends and fashion change and their time in the light comes to an end. Where is Ed Hardy clothing these days? Pan-Am Airlines? As well as consumer trends and fashion, a formerly strong company might find their popularity waning if they’re at the wrong end of social movement, such as a focus on obesity and the toxins we put into our body. Obviously McDonalds is a prime example here, as it struggles to reinvent itself in healthier, more calorie-conscious times. But Subway seemed to be on a winner, with its clear and simple menu offerings and healthy food options.
Not healthy enough, apparently.
This Toronto Star article said that Subway originally launched to great success because of the healthy lunchtime and dinner option it offered hungry patrons. Subway’s fresh subs stood out against a market full of stodge: burgers, chips and pies. But as time has gone on, more quality takeaway options have launched and food has got even healthier – steamed, rather than microwaved, organic salads made fresh rather than packaged, and so on. Subway has rested on its laurels for too long and as a result they’ve taken a hit in popularity, with consumers moving on to companies with even more healthy options.
A true example of when your value offering and USP ceases to be so. Suddenly, Subway isn’t the only player in the healthy, fast-food game. How do you stand out to consumers when your USP is no longer clear?
It sounds like they’ve been too busy focusing on growth through selling more franchise shops to actually stop and listen to the market and their customers. They’re increasing market share but sliding in popularity – if they continue on in this vein it won’t end well. It’s no good having thousands of stores full of food if no one wants to eat it.
Subway needs to take time to get back to basics. What do consumers want? How can they get back to being the upmost healthy takeaway food option? How can they run franchises that keep a standard of quality but allow the business owners to run a business they are proud of, that works?
An interesting read and interesting times ahead for Subway, that’s for sure.