Commentary

In Throwback To Pre-COVID Strategy, Buffalo Wild Wings Leverages All-You-Can-Eat


 

All-you-can-eat dine-in restaurant offers were unheard of or taboo in many major cities during the pandemic. Now just a brief couple years later, one fast-casual chain has practically doubled its in-store traffic, while creating a social media frenzy by offering an old school deal on its chicken wings.

Earlier this month 1,300 unit Buffalo Wild Wings (BWW) launched a surprising promotion; for $19.99, customers can have all-they-can-eat boneless wings and fries with any of the chain’s specialty sauces on Mondays and Wednesdays. The catch? Obviously diners could only order the special in-store, hence no Netflix-and-chill option. The promo was advertised on social, TV, CTV and in-store.

It’s an interesting strategy given the rise in home delivery services, and that 1/3 of BWW’s business comes from takeout and delivery. The chain recently launched its 100th Buffalo Wild Wings Go takeout and delivery location, per CNBC.

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Yet the in-store all-you-can-eat wings offer has been more successful than most would have predicted. According to foot traffic analytics firm Placer.ai, the promotion, which began a mere three weeks ago and runs through July, saw visits on Monday, May 27, increase almost 56% compared to the average number of Monday visitors between January and May 2024. On Wednesday, May 29, visits were likewise up almost 37% compared to the average Wednesday crowd.

“After struggling with food and other inflation pressures the past two years, consumers are clearly in a deal-driven mindset,” commented R.J. Hottovy, head of analytical research at Placer.ai ,in an email to QSR Insider. “Buffalo Wild Wings' all-you-can-eat promotion on Mondays and Wednesdays in May was one of the most successful promotions in terms of driving increased visitations that we’ve seen in the casual-dining category in some time, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see other chains introduce similar limited-time promotions in the near future.”

And the promotion hasn’t been lost on mainstream or social media. Boneless wing fans have accepted the subtly implied challenge of all-you-can-eat and are chronicling their experiences. One political reporter from SFGATE took a break from his usual beat to extensively document his attempt to “conquer (BWW’s) all-you-can-eat deal.”  He made it to 40 wings.

A school football team also filmed how many the entire team could eat on TikTok; they tapped out at 1,260. Another group challenge winner hit 42, with his video garnering over 300k views in the last three days. Apparently the individual “winner” (thus far) is Ugh_Madison, also on TikTok, who ate a whopping 69 wings over the course of twelve hours.

But the real winner here is obviously Buffalo Wild Wings itself. Ugh_Madison’s video already has over 3 million views, and the promotion has more than a month to go. There’s no limit, no tricks, no clubs; just a customer-focused promo that does what it says it will. As SFGATE’s reporter Alec Regimbal said, “I’m proud to let my fellow gourmands know that the Buffalo Wild Wings all-you-can-eat special is factual and everything it promises to be.”

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