Zoes Kitchen

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Zoës Kitchen began in 1995 as a family-run restaurant in Homewood, Alabama. The company’s owner, president & CEO, John Cassismus had turned his attention from his own business ventures to the family business, with desires to build a world-class company. Mostly frequented by mothers with small children and white-collar employees in the area, the restaurant catered to those consumers with a desire for healthy foods at comparatively lower prices. As of December 2005 there were 16 locations in five different states. The brand was strong and synonymous with freshness, home-style goodness and family recipes. The menu boasted healthy selections, mostly with a Greek influence which consumers could also purchase in larger quantities for take-home consumption. The industry outlook was good for Zoës Kitchen. The only expected growth in the now mature restaurant industry was expected to come from the fast-casual segment, and as a ‘member’ of this segment, Zoës Kitchen was positioned well for growth opportunity. However, it also faced the inherent threat of fierce industry competition. The threat came from many directions; new players entering directly into the fast-casual market, as well as other large players already in the restaurant business looking to grab market share (i.e. fast-food restaurants offering healthier & fresher choices). Zoës Kitchen was operating on a focused differentiation strategy; aiming at securing competitive advantage by appealing to the specific needs and desires of a well-defined market of consumers. A marketing survey completed for Zoës Kitchen showed that their loyal customer base placed the highest value on quality and service, not on price. This survey confirmed that a ‘low-cost’ strategy was not necessarily a good choice for the company. The broad differentiation strategy would not allow the time or attention on such a well-defined niche that John Cassismus would have desired. The company is striving to capitalize on a very specific niche; time-starved, health conscious, affluent individuals. As such, it was clear that John Cassismus has built Zoës Kitchen into a well-positioned company, with an effective strategy well-matched to its market segment of the industry. The focused differentiation strategy largely depends on a buyer segment that seeks special product attributes (i.e. healthier food, lower comparative cost, quick service) and on the company’s ability to stand apart from its rivals. In its uniqueness, Zoës Kitchen has the ability to be different and had no national rivals emulating its format or menu. SWOT Analysis

Strengths
It is clear that the major strength for Zoës Kitchen is its people. John Cassismus himself is an asset worth discussing. John built the company from a single, family run restaurant into the existing 16 location operation. John fostered the business which was inspired from the kitchen of his very own mother, Zoë. He was described as being optimistic, sales oriented, an entrepreneur, a visionary and hard-working. •Another critical strength for Zoës Kitchen is the customer loyalty which had been carefully cultivated and expanded. With happy and satisfied customers, Zoës Kitchen possessed the ability to rely heavily on ‘word-of-mouth’- advertising, as over 50 percent of survey respondents had discovered the store through family and friends. Weaknesses

One of the major weaknesses that Zoës Kitchen is faced with is the lack of sales during over dinner time. The loss of dinner-time patrons represents a large portion of potential sales. •Zoës Kitchen also has to contend with the verity that the industry-segment (fast-casual) does not offer the lucrative profits that the fast-food segment can. The fact of the matter is, ‘offering fresh food instead of frozen, hiring talented employees and constructing restaurants with character’ has proven to be expensive. Negative difference in buying power would impact Zoës Kitchen dramatically and be considered a great weakness...
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