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Situation Analysis of White Castle Systems Inc.


White Castle is known as the original fast-food hamburger chain. The first White Castle opened it's doors in Witchita, Kansas, in 1921. White Castle (WC) has since grown to 393 restaurants in 11 states (White Castle hamburger..., 2004) and is now expanding internationally. By analysing White Castle's internal strengths, internal weaknesses, external opportunities, and external threats, otherwise known as a SWOT analysis (Kerin, 2005), Learning Team B was able to exam market demographics, company needs, trends, and market forecast as they pertain to White Castle. During the SWOT analysis Learning Team B (LTB) discovered the primary strategic marketing issue is in order to remain profitable White Castle needs to promote its unique product(s) and adapt its menu items in order to continue to appeal to the changing desires of today's consumers. The same holds trues today as it did in 1998 when William J. McDonald stated "White Castle needs to continually reassess its marketing strategy, particularly its pricing and promotional activities to determine what approach will be most effective into the future."

Marketing strategy recommendations

A major strategy in the element of marketing is generating and maintaining brand recognition. Attaining brand recognition in the target market is a critical milestone for any branding strategy. There are many cues in the brand recognition arsenal. Typically brand building begins with aesthetic cues, the design features in a graphic or logo meant to visually represent the brand. Color, shape, texture, style, typeface, and position are among the design attributes which can offer recognition cues, making a design visually distinctive. It's the reason why, when a new logo is evaluated, recognition factors and design uniqueness are taken into consideration.

According to Kim Kelly-Bartley (2001), vice president of marketing and site development for the Columbus, Ohio-based chain, summarizes,

In an effort to boost brand recognition, White Castle is revamping units for only the second time in its 80-year history. An earlier change occurred five years ago, when the nation's oldest burger chain celebrated its 75th anniversary. Prior to that, the chain had not changed, other than to make sure the units were clean and in good repair. The first retrofit was introduced in late July, in an existing store in Queens, N.Y. The prototype is also being tested in Chicago, St. Louis and Columbus. The chain's updated look features orange accents, wood laminates and chrome finishes. Orange neon lighting, for example, encircles the restaurant's dining room and accents seating. White Castle's enduring (and too many customers, endearing) color scheme had been limited to blue and white. We wanted to see if you can add a color and still uphold the look. (p. 1).

The process of recognition is a core component of branding. If a brand strategy doesn't employ visual or auditory cues, establishing brand perceptions and evoking memories is a lot more difficult and complicated. Without cues, the brain has to rely solely on recall to remember a brand. Boosting brand recognition is always a combination of knowing the target audience, market(s), category competition, and distribution. In order to boost brand recognition, a company must know their brand's visual equity and level of current brand recognition. Finally, a company must understand what sales have been doing in their target market(s), what their strategic business goals are for increased sales, and what the budget is for increasing sales. Generating brand recognition through exposing the market to the product and promoting it heavily as well as finding promotional partners may also be beneficial.

In a special Valentine's Day promotion, couples who love White Castle hamburgers can dine at any of 48 White Castle fast-food restaurants nationwide participating in a special Valentine's Day promotion. In comparison with some of the pricier, more upscale events held for lovers, Valentines Day at White Castle cost just 49 cents per burger to enjoy. Hostesses dressed in elegant costumes instead of the usual White Castle uniforms seat couples at cloth-covered, candlelit tables while romantic music is played in the background. The promotion is not a new invention. It debuted in St. Louis and Minneapolis about 16 years ago but was so popular it was expanded to White Castles in other Midwestern



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