Biscuitville expanding presence with new Marketing Director
Niven is joining the company after serving in various marketing positions at Quiznos, Arby’s and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.
Greensboro, N.C.-based Biscuitville operates 58 stores in 33 cities within North Carolina and Virginia.
In an interview with WinmoEdge, Niven discussed updating Biscuitville’s marketing efforts and product offerings.
WinmoEdge: Have you had time yet to establish any short- and/or long-term goals?
Kathie Niven: Yes, I came in Jan 4. I was VP of field marketing at Quiznos and I ran marketing within the West region for Arby’s, reporting to the president of the West Region. So, I came in with a pretty good idea of what they needed and I’m from the area too where they originated so I know the brand very well.
I really spent the first month and a half going through a very large amount of research, including customer analytics, intercepts and quantitative research that was conducted last year. We’ve done a lot of focus groups learning about attitudes and behaviors, and other things like that.
We picked up a lot of information and from there I’m formulating a strategic plan. We actually have new research launching in the next two weeks too. We’re quantifying how customers have changed, and the industry has changed a lot too.
Our biggest goal is to continue promoting our core values, which includes consistency, service cleanliness and appearance. We’ve found that customers are asking us for more promotions too, “give us more exciting things and product innovation” they’ve said. We’re actually on the cusp of something super fun in October.
Right now we’re working on product innovations with a partner in the area and a local team to merge products. We want to highlight local food products that are made and distributed in the Triad area. We’re really excited about that.
We also want to keep our core values, because our customers are probably like how you are; you eat the same protein every day: turkey, sausage and ham. We have to keep those things, but in a world where people have access to few pleasures we want to do some things outside of the box. They may not move the sales needle much, but let’s just have more fun.
The other attempt is do things more locally. We want to find local manufacturers like meat producers and take advantage of that. We may not stick to that next year, but we really hope to partner with local businesses within the food industry to highlight North Carolina food, which is a big emphasis.
WinmoEdge: While new, fun innovations may not move the sales needle, they should help out a lot with increasing brand awareness.
Kathie Niven: Yes, and whoever partners with us, we hope they get the benefit of that, as well. It’s so much fun when you can bring a novel product out in 58 restaurants to two million customers. For whomever we work with, it’s a win-win for them in North Carolina and Virginia.
You’re right, and it’s really an attempt to translate our concept and keep the needle moving forward. At the end of the day, people need to have fun and have access to fun products.
WinmoEdge: Does Biscuitville just serve breakfast or does it have other offerings?
Kathie Niven: We’re open until 2 p.m., and that’s almost like an extension of breakfast. Competitors close at 11 for breakfast, so we’re hoping to capture some of that through lunch hour. Another thing we’re focusing on in product innovation is lunch.
We don’t want to make it too big a departure from what we are – a breakfast brand – but we want to offer additional things that might serve the lunch palate or capture customers who go out for brunch at a nice restaurant on Sunday. We’re trying to figure out how to incorporate some of these products, like quiche or a bologna biscuit with sun dried tomatoes, into our business.
We want to do more of that and turn up our lunch experience. That’s top of the list, as well. That’s the part of the day where we’re most eager to expand. We want to continue offering customers a great experience with Southern style breakfast and get them excited about our new lunch products.
WinmoEdge: Does Biscuitville only promote itself through partnerships and word-of-mouth, or does advertising also play a role?
Kathie Niven: From a restaurant facility standpoint, we’ve revamped the way we do point-of-service materials. We use bigger street sign materials to attract people outside and we do quarterly print shared mail inserts, only because it’s tending to work and gets awareness out at a cost that we can manage.
We’re looking at other avenues too and other types of promotions. We’re going to move forward with partnerships and innovation, but we most certainly will be looking to advertise externally.
WinmoEdge: Can you describe the partnerships that Biscuitville is trying to form in greater detail?
Kathie Niven: I don’t want to name any specific companies but it would involve food items like pimento cheese and bacon products, or even a black and blue steak with blue cheese. It could include things like great cakes and stone ground grits, things that you see in upscale restaurants that you don’t have access to in a typical QSR segment.
Again, we want to bring those fun breakfast experiences to QSR. We already have the bologna biscuit, which got a lot of laughs when we launched it. People thought it was really interesting and it has become a huge seller for us now. That was an indication that we were in a position to be more creative.
WinmoEdge: Do you see opportunities to expand Biscuitville’s online presence?
Kathie Niven: We do, and we’re looking into that. Right now, we’re building up the e-mail database and our Facebook fan base. We’re actually interviewing right now for possible opportunities there.
Breakfast tends to skew a bit older than typical QSR environments, but it also has to do with discretionary income at breakfast too. We’re looking to attract a younger crowd as well and pass that brand loyalty to another generation.
WinmoEdge: Are any agencies helping with all of these initiatives?
Kathie Niven: Right now, we’re working primarily internally, and the main reason for that is that until we are in a position to have the kind of budget it wouldn’t be attractive. Right now, we’re not in a position to do that.
WinmoEdge: Coming from larger QSR chains, do you see a lot of growth potential for Biscuitville at this point?
Kathie Niven: There’s a huge opportunity for us. I definitely think we need to find the right places, and we have gone a little outside of our heritage markets, but it’s obviously new territory for us. I think there’s a lot of opportunity out there, but we also want to get their profitably.
Nielsen reports that Biscuitville spent $124,000 on measured media in 2010, all of which went towards outdoor ads.
1414 Yanceyville Street
Greensboro, NC 27405
Director, Purchasing & Product Development