Subway expects to introduce itself to customers and convince them to try its sandwiches again after years of declining sales.
In a week’s time, Subway restaurants across the country will unveil an updated menu meant to expand the items further, however you look at it. The chain says the move is the biggest menu change in its history.
The redesign incorporates new recipes for the chain’s Italian and multigrain bread, as well as new toppings for the sandwiches.
The chain also effectively fine-tunes menu items. Subway’s bacon, for example, will currently be hickory-smoked, and its turkey and ham will be sliced thinner. It also brings back items from the past like rotisserie chicken and roast beef.
To entice customers to try the new ingredients, many restaurants plan to forgo a million free sandwiches between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on July 13. The chain is also updating the look of its app and cooperating with DoorDash to allow customers to order delivery directly from the Subway app.
A few customers once considered Subway a reasonable and moderately healthy option – they could stack their sandwiches with their favorite blend of veg and protein without breaking the bank. But in recent years, competition in the fast-paced casual space has helped Subway stand out.
“We want to make a loud enough noise… to attract these people to give us another look,” said Subway CEO John Chidsey.
With the new menu, Subway is looking for these customers and hopes to satisfy its franchisees.
Bring back customers
According to foodservice research and consulting firm Technomic, sales at Subway’s U.S. branches have fallen in recent years. System-wide sales at Subway’s U.S. branches were $ 12.3 billion in 2013, which was its best year of the previous 15, and about $ 8.3 billion in 2020, according to the Technomic analysis.
Due to a request for comment on these figures, Trevor Haynes, President of Subway for North America, said in an emailed statement that “Subway is privately held and does not publicly disclose sales figures. “. He added that “for the first half of 2021, average sales are doing well compared to 2019, pre-pandemic levels.”
As Subway rose to prominence, it “owned” the personalization, said Robert Byrne, director of consumer and industry information at Technomic. However, the rise of fast-casual has made personalization the norm. Currently, customers can create their own burritos, salads, sandwiches or bowls, which is furious competition in the space. As more restaurants come up with personalized alternatives, “we want to continue to… dominate this space,” Chidsey said.
Subway’s research showed customers want more innovation, Chidsey noted.
For this reason, the organization decided to “focus on improving the quality of the basic ingredients, because with these basic ingredients you can make an almost endless number of sandwich combinations,” Chidsey said.
It’s tough on personalization. “Perceptions of health and what is healthy [have] evolved, ”Byrne said. “From an ingredient perspective, I know consumers would like to know a bit more about sourcing.”
Recently, questions were raised about Subway’s tuna – a lawsuit claimed that Subway’s tuna sandwich was not actually made with fish. The combination has since been revised to state that the tuna used by Subway is not 100% tuna and generally does not use skipjack or yellowfin tuna. Subway called the original first lawsuit “without merit” and said “the new claims are false”, adding that “the lawsuit constitutes a reckless and inappropriate attack on the Subway brand.”
Subway always serves the product with pleasure, claiming that “100% wild caught tuna remains a fan favorite among submarine enthusiasts”.
The refresh also has the conceivable benefit of satisfying franchise operators, some of whom are calling for changes.
One measure of the up-to-date prosperity is a “re-energized franchise community,” Chidsey said. “It’s important for us internally. Franchisees have also called for more menu innovations, he said.
Some Subway franchise operators have complained publicly about how the organization is treating them. In April, an anonymous group of “concerned franchisees” composed an open letter to Elisabeth DeLuca, co-owner of the chain. Subway’s dream “turned into a nightmare,” they said, writing that Subway had hurt their business by franchising new locations nearby or closing stores for minor infractions, in addition to other things. In a separate letter, they complained about the high franchise fees. Subway’s franchise fees are “competitive,” said Trevor Haynes, Subway president for North America, in an emailed statement.
“There are still a few people who are unhappy with the past,” Chidsey said, referring to the franchisee’s complaints. “But I think if you talk to the vast majority of our franchisees, they’ll say we’ve had a hell of a six month period,” he said, suggesting that the higher sales are encouraging for franchise operators. . “Things are improving quite dramatically.” He added that the chain is focused on developing sales rather than the quantity of Subway restaurants in the United States.
Aligning franchise operators with the corporate team is fundamental to the turnaround of the organization, noted Technomic’s Byrne. “I don’t think they can do anything until these two groups are on the same page.”