TORONTO — What’s fuelling A&W’s innovations in sourcing, menu planning and store formats? Millennials. According to the North Vancouver, B.C.-based foodservice chain, millennials are driving change at both the store level and on the farm, a theme explored during yesterday’s Fast Food Trends Forum in Toronto.
Marketing maven Tony Chapman provided insight into the key trends. “Millennials can no longer be a side thought. They are strong-willed, connected and have more power than ever before. You either go along with what they’re after, or they discard you.”
The forum touched on three key issues: millennials want ‘real’ food; they crave ethically sourced products from sustainable companies; and they want to be their own boss.
These insights rang true for the team at A&W, which has embarked on a series of changes during the past two years, particularly with the move to establish hormone- and antibiotic-free meat and fair-trade coffee. “When A&W began its transformation in 2013, we conducted a great deal of research into the younger generation and discovered the beginning of a ‘fast-foodie’ movement,” said Susan Senecal, president and COO, A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. “This insight shows the movement has intensified and A&W’s simple philosophy of ‘good food makes good food’ is resonating more than ever before, especially with millennials. It’s an exciting time and we will be using these top three trends to make more changes in both our kitchens and our business.”
One such change is a new program dedicated to bringing millennials into leadership roles at the company through a new Urban Franchise Associates Program geared towards those with the “hospitality gene” but who lack the traditional experience and capital of an older franchisee. The program makes it easier for young leaders to get into the business for a lower investment, explained Senecal, who added that more details about the program will be released in the weeks to come.