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Potbelly's Identity Crisis

In a world stuffed with fast food and fast casual choices, Potbelly has struggled to sufficiently distinguish itself as unique among the competition despite four decades in business. Obviously, efforts have been good enough thus far, but fast casual sandwich chain stores have grown by 70% over just the past five years, and so the market is getting a bit saturated. Revenues at Potbelly have been falling for over a year amidst what appears to be an identity crisis. What's a marketer to do?

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The last CEO wanted to sell the business, but the new one has different plans. He endeavors to find ways to make the brand's products stand out, and is already in the process of culling the menu down from an inefficient 115 items at 66 different price points to a more manageable mix. He plans to offer combo meals for the first time, and has introduced the first of many new sandwich offerings--bbq pulled pork. The company will increase its marketing budget, and so perhaps some national advertising is in order with a nice outdoor and digital media tie in. It sounds like marketers might need to re-introduce the brand and that will be expensive. Whatever happens it should be interesting and instructive for any student of marketing.


Discussion:  What can Potbelly do to enhance brand attitudes among the 18-36 Millennial generation? What about younger consumers?



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