The Applebee's Effect
Monday, August 28, 2006 | posted by Mike
I figured I’d take my first look at food TV in American culture and make up for some of the bad karma I generated when I took a cheap shot at Applebee’s last week.
The more I thought about it, the more I came to think that there is actually something pretty interesting (and cool) about what Applebee’s is doing with the addition of the new dishes from Tyler Florence.
Dan mentioned in his comment that Tyler Florence might not be all that well-known outside the food TV community, and I think he’s correct. So, then, who is Applebee’s going after?
Regardless of how well Applebee’s is able to pull off the dishes, the fact that they are making this move seems to be an effort to market directly to foodies like us.
Traditionally, there have been two types of chain restaurants: fast food and casual dining. But that line is being blurred, particularly by chains like Panera, which is trying to combine fast food convenience with upscale cuisine. Even chains like McDonald’s have dipped their toes in more upscale items.
The Florence dishes are nothing terribly different from the rest of the Applebee’s menu, but the fact that they’re using Tyler as a selling point tells us that they see foodies – more specifically, people who watch enough Food Network to know who Tyler Florence is – as a potential customer base.
This is a positive development because the recognition among marketers that knowledgeable eaters are a desirable target will have spillover effects on things like the kind of ingredients you’ll be able to find in your local supermarket.
I think we’re past the days of being shocked (shocked!) that our interests would be commoditized…it’s good to know that foodies are gaining enough clout to shape the market to our tastes.