• Dairy Queen (DQ) debuted as a family-owned restaurant more than
60 years ago.
• Dairy Queen International is the parent company of Dairy Queen
and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.
• DQ is the treat and soft serve ice cream leader with 5,600 stores in
20 countries and is the largest soft serve franchiser in the world.
• Competition includes McDonald's, Culver's, TCBY, Sonic,
Oberweis, Ben & Jerry's, and Baskin Robbins.
• Named #16 on QSR's Top Quick-Serve Brands in the Nation in
1938 The first Dairy Queen first opened.
1949 Dairy Queen introduces malts and shakes to its menu.
1955 Dairy Queen has over 2,600 stores international
and introduces the Dilly Bar.
1957 The Dairy Queen Brazier concept is introduced and
is debuted one year later.
1965 First radio ad is broadcasted and runs 169 million
times in one week; TV ads follow in 1966.
1972 "Dennis the Menace" becomes spokes character for DQ.
1985 More than 175 million Blizzard Flavor Treats sold in its first
1989 Dairy Queen ranked America's number one treat
2001 The first DQ Grill & Chill restaurant opens in
2004 The MooLatte Beverage line debuts in Mocha,
Vanilla and Caramel flavors.
• More than half of consumers skip lunch once a week or replace
lunch with a snack.
• Almost half visit the same few restaurants for lunch.
• 35% buy lunch at least twice a week, although bringing lunch from
home is a growing trend.
• During the week, consumers value fast, portable and inexpensive.
During the weekends, freshness and customization is of more
• In April 2010 the Mini Blizzard is the biggest dessert player in the
quick- serve industry.
DQ celebrated its 25th anniversary by driving a food truck around the
country and handing out free Mini Blizzards.
• Launched new integrated marketing campaigns featuring a family of
DQ fanatics (the Blizzmans), and a humorous new pitchman aimed
to reach young male demographic.
• History of Brand
• Popularity in sweets industry
• Family oriented
• Financial backing
• Ability for easy expansion with
use of franchises
• Lack of product line awareness
• Inconsistencies across franchises
• Lack of clear identity
• Inconsistent advertising
• Poor customer service reputation
• Online sales
• Positioning themselves as a place for lunch
• Build awareness about lunch menu
• Switch consumers from competitors
• Build better brand identity
• Fight seasonality by focusing on other
menu items during colder months
• Capitalize on nostalgia - remind of brand
• Increased competition in recent years
• Product parity with other fast food
• More health conscious consumers
• Culvers is the most popular chain in
the Chicago area
• Not part of consumer consideration
set for lunch options
• Lack of consistent brand identity
• Inefficient targeting
• Need to streamline the different franchises for uniformed look and
• Chill is cannibalizing the success of grill
Six (6) participants: one male, five female
Length - 54:27
Date and Time:
Day One: March 22, 2012 at 8:45 p.m.
Day Two: April 5, 2012 at 4:45 p.m.
Location: Dairy Queen (436 S. Wabash Chicago, IL 60605)
In Depth Interviews
Dairy Queen Manager: Dave
Jordan (male, 22-30)
NaCherrie (female, 24-35)
Clancy (female, 22-30)
• Fresh food is important to consumers
• Meal decision is based on convenience of restaurant
• Variety in menu options
• Knowing you will like the meal you purchase
• Consistency in meal preparation
• There was a good mix of families and students sitting in the
restaurant. Many of which were there only eating ice cream.
• Those that eat-in, their food is brought to the table. The staff
always asked if there was anything else that the customers
• Outside signage focused mainly on ice cream, coffee and the
Customer Interviews – Key Findings:
• Interviewees go to the same places for a meal because they don’t
want to be unfulfilled after their meal.
• Interviewees would go to Dairy Queen more if there were more
• Interviewees choose their meal locations based on convenience and
• Primarily view Dairy Queen as a restaurant for ice cream.
• “For me, DQ just gets lost in the noise. I see their new ads but have
yet to have a single one make me think twice about stopping in.”
• “It's too bad the company seems more interested in modernizing the
brand vs. tapping into the rich emotional connection people have
with the brand they grew up with.”
• The corporation wants to convert a majority, if not all, of its Dairy
Queen stores into Grill and Chill’s.
• Dave’s store sales have increased 20% since the conversion in 2010.
35% of sales are food items, 65% are ice cream
• To increase sales, the food menu must work.
• “Dairy Queen will always be different from competitors because of
their ice cream reputation.”
• Best customer - “Fast Fuelers”
• Dave would like to see consistent, year round advertising that
emphasizes the food menu.
• To create an advertising campaign that appeals to the target
audience on an emotional level by leveraging DQ's long history
while still creating something that is fresh and contemporary.
• To target a new audience where DQ can be a more competitive
entity in consumer consideration sets.
• To reinstate an emotional brand connection between consumers and
• To define a clear and universal brand image across franchises.
• To increase awareness of DQ's Grill options.
• 30-45 years old
• Career woman
• College educated
• Busy Schedule
• Follows Routines
• Fast Fueler
• Lives in the suburbs
• Works in an urban area
• Visits DQ with family on weekends and evenings
• Visits DQ alone or with co-workers for lunch during the work week
• Home away from home
• Dairy Queen logo
• Website URL
• Social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, P-interest, Four Square)
• Call to action
"Visit your local Dairy Queen today"
• Target families in ads and promotions.
• Food promotions for those who live near DQs.
• Incentives encourage target to try food items.
• Social media: Foursquare check-in to receive a free treat from
DQ every second or third visit.
• Fight seasonality by promoting food items more during cold
weather months and frozen treats during the summer months.
• Measure online sentiment for brand
• Profile what kind of customers eat food at DQ - find out what they
like/dislike about the brand and food.
• Which food items are the best/worst sellers - narrow down menu
offerings to provide the best options for consumers.
• Perform a focus group with business men and women who’s
primary mode of transportation is an automobile.
• Perform a focus group with men between the ages of 18-24 to learn
more about their decision process when choosing a restaurant.
• Survey families that eat at a fast food restaurant on a weekly basis to
better understand how they choose a restaurant and what is
important to them when making purchasing decisions.
• Focus Group Transcripts
• IDI – Dave: Dairy Queen Manager of Des Plaines, IL
• IDI – Jordan Manske
• IDI - Clancy Amadei
• IDI – NaCherrie Cooper
• Focus Group
Moderators: Liz Brennan and Mylynn Lynch
• Participants: Emily (female 22-30), Jalisa (22-30), Ed (24-32), Brittney (22-30), Carie (35-48), Porsha (22-30)
1. What are your favorite quick lunch-type restaurant chains? What do you like about them?
• Chick Filet, Chipotle, Panera
• One participant never goes to fast food for lunch, but she would go after a movie late at night.
• One participant will go many places, whatever looks appealing
• Freshness is important on a menu regardless if it’s a French fries or salad and deliciousness.
2. How does your favorite chain/its food make you feel? Do you go there because of these reasons? (comfortable, confident in quality, etc.)
3. 3. Are you loyal to one or two fast food restaurants? If so, why?
• No specific loyalty – about convenience
• Customization is important to one participant
4. If not, what makes you change your lunch location? Are you looking for variety, is it because of the people you are with? (ex. going to a
sit down restaurant vs 7-11 depending on who you’re with) Not asked
5. How often do you eat at a fast food restaurants?
• A couple times a week for four participants
• One participant eats maybe a few times a year
• One participant is a vegetarian and worked in fast food after college, bad experience
7. Do you regularly eat dessert with or after your meals? If so, what are your top three choices of places to go? Do you prefer dining at 1-
stop shop fast food eateries?
• One participant eats dessert after every meal, she likes to refresh her palette, she likes a balanced life.
• The other participants do not order desserts. Most go out specifically for dessert, if they are in the mood for it.
8. Are their places that typically please everyone, or do you like locations such as food courts that allow you and your friends to choose
from different vendors but dine together? Not Asked
9. Have you eaten the food at Dairy Queen?
• One participant she ate there as a child, but had a bad experience and has not eaten the food there since. But she has eaten the
dessert since her bad experience.
• None of the other participants have eaten at Dairy Queen.
• One group member is a vegetarian nor she doesn’t like her vegetarian food touching food that could have touched meat.
• Participants eat at Sonic and Culver’s. They describe the two restaurants as different.
• Participants view Culver’s as a restaurant for dessert.
• Sonic is hard to find in the Chicago area so participants don’t eat there often.
• The group remarked that Sonic emphasizes food more and Culver’s emphasizes dessert more.
10. Describe what your ideal place to have lunch would be like? What food items would they offer? Price? Not Asked
11. What are your fast food standards? Not Asked
12. How do you decide where to go for fast food/lunch? What factors play a part in your decision? (i.e. price, variety, nutritional value, time,
eat-in or take out, by self or with friends, Location, Convenience, Quality, Cleanliness, Organic/Sustainable/Local, Dietary
• Time of day, where the individuals are headed for the rest of their day
• One member likes to try new places, and would plan her day around a new restaurant
• A coupon wouldn’t entice members to go to DQ because of its low price point.
13. Do you have a routine when eating? (go to a certain restaurant on a specific day, with specific people, because you’re in a specific mood,
because you just got paid, etc?)
• Lunch, before school or after school
• Co-workers influence where he goes to lunch
• Those in school full time, use lunch
14. Are incentives ever involved in your choice of where to eat at lunch? Which incentives are most compelling? Not Asked
15. Would a coupon or discount entice you to try a new menu item at a fast food restaurant?
• All participants agreed that with low point of purchase, coupons aren’t very affective.
• Two participant loves trying new things
• One would try a new dessert option – woman who had bad experience with DQ food
• Two participants likes to know what they are getting when they are hungry and want to eat a satisfying meal
16. Are you usually curious to try new menu options when you see them or see advertising about them? Not Asked
17. Do you like when fast food restaurants expand their menus to include new products not typically part of their brand image? For example,
McDonald's offering specialty coffees.
• Innovation is important to three of the group members
• Specials are important, every few weeks
• One participant thinks every restaurant should have a new menu every month
• One participant would try a new dessert, but not a meal at Dairy Queen. The participants want to know that their meal will be
good when they are spending more than a few dollars.
18. When a specialty food restaurant introduces a product not part of their category, why do you think they do it? Not Asked
19. Do you trust fast food chains that serve a plethora of food options like breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts? Not Asked
20.Do fast food advertisements and web sites encourage your purchases? (DQ promotes dessert a lot, but not so much the lunch options-is
this why there is a slump in lunch purchases?)
Word of mouth the most important
A commercial would make someone think about the new item, but not purchase it
The image of the product on the menu is important. Appeal factor. What does it look like?
20.What entices you to try a new menu item?
• Specials are looked for
• Description of item is important
• Drinks and shakes would be tried over a meal
21. Do you trust the places you go to?
• Want to trust the place, but not every chain is the same
22. What places do you go to for ice cream? When? Why
Culver, Cold Stone, Oberweise are popular options
Focused menu doesn’t matter
One wishes dessert would be served the entire time the restaurant is opened
Associate ice cream with summer
Walking to the place
Dairy Queen Questions:
1. What do like about restaurants like DQ and Dunkin’ Doughnuts? What do you dislike?
• One participant said, “I like my favorite thing.”
2. Why do you go to places similar to Dairy Queen?
• Sonic has a better way to getting people because they promote more than just one thing.
• They emphasize more menu items.
• They have a unique atmosphere because of their staff on roller skates and it’s a drive up.
• Dairy Queen staff is young and can create a bad atmosphere at the restaurant. They hope it would be young. One thinks
Culver’s is the same with young staff. Dairy Queen staff is independent, flexible rules compared to McDonalds.
• Freshness, structure, a complete menu that offers what it says it will
3. How do you view Dairy Queen as a brand? What is their image to you and why do you think that is?
4. What is DQ’s brand personality to you? What is __________’s brand personality? Which is more effective? What is unique about each
brand? Not Asked
5. We talked about factors that play into your decision making when choosing a place to eat. How does DQ rank in those categories for
you? Not Asked
6. What does DQ mean to you in terms of food offerings? Not Asked
7. Looking at the DQ menu, would you go to a full service location for lunch? Yes/No and why? Not Asked
8. Does anyone know where the nearest DQ is to them? Are they full service, with lunch options, or treat/snack only? Not Asked
11. How often do you go to DQ? When was the last time you visited a DQ location? Was it full service or treat only? Not Asked
12. What could DQ do to make you more apt to visit? (Promotions, Advertising, More locations) Not Asked
13. Should DQ focus solely on desserts? Elaborate. Not Asked
14. Does DQ’s strength in desserts hinder its success with lunch? Not Asked
15. Would you buy DQ products at retail? Not Asked
16. Does anyone know offhand what DQ’s advertising says? Are you familiar with the ads, slogans, jingles? What does the advertising focus
on? (“Food so good, it’s ridiculous”) Not Asked
17. SHOW ADS – Ads not shown
18. Show food menu from website - scroll through website menu pictures, it shows a sweet deal (daily discounts). After seeing the food
menu options, would you stop there?
• One yes for ice cream, one yes to try food
• one would go with friends, surprised by the number of options, vegetarians would try a veggie burger if they knew it didn’t
touch other meat
19. Do you think it’s good that they have the food? Variety good?
• Makes sense to have food because it is lunch, good for parent’s because kids can get food
20. Describe average DQ customer
• College students, family
• One participant has always gone there to celebrate, part of childhood
• Busy Mom’s with their kids, part of what he remembers as a kid, tradition
• Part of family history, go there as kids
19. A world without DQ would be… A world without ____________(most popular/favorite food chain mentioned) would be…
• No tradition
• A lot less junk in your ice cream
• A little less fun
• Sad because it’s been around for so long
Dairy Queen Grill and Chill
Date: March 22, 2012
Location: (436 S. Wabash Chicago, IL 60605)
• There were approximately 20 people in the restaurant.
• All but two people were eating in a group
• The store has seating over approximately 50 people
• There were in store promotions for food menu.
• About 15 people came in while I was observing
• All but two people order off of the food menu
• Customers interaction with the DQ staff seemed to be friendly and accommodating.
• Your food was brought out to you if you ate in
• The light dimmer than I expected.
• I had access to ketchup, mustard, and napkins at my table.
• It seemed to be a hang out for college students.
• As I walked to the store, up Wabash street couples were walking past with me DQ to go.
• The restaurant was never full while I sat there.
• Customers appeared to be satisfied
• Restaurants close by: Panera, TLC Dunkin Doughnuts, Cafecito, two different Asian food restaurants and Subway
Dairy Queen Grill and Chill
Date: April 5, 2012
Location: (436 S. Wabash Chicago, IL 60605)
• There was a good mix of families and students sitting in the restaurant; many of which were there only eating ice cream.
• Those that eat-in, their food is brought to the table. The staff always asked if there was anything else that the customers
• Outside signage focused mainly on ice cream, coffee and the chicken basket.
• Many people were eating ice cream in the store.
• The food menu is larger than the ice cream menu.
• Restaurant atmosphere is one that encouraged people to sit around. There were sports games on the TV. There were napkins,
ketchup and mustard bottles (Not packets) on each tableà welcoming.
• On table advertising was for the ice cream and gift card
• Significantly more ice cream advertising than food.
• There was in-store in-line promos for food.
• Staff has more interaction with patrons over other fast food restaurants.
• Location close to colleges: Robert Morris, Roosevelt and Columbia
• Restaurants close by: Panera, Cafecito, TLC Dunkin Doughnuts, two different Asian food restaurants and Subway
Dairy Queen Grill & Chill
Location: Des Plaines, IL
Manager’s Name: Dave
Date: April 13, 2012
Time: 5:00 p.m.
1. Please give me a background of your involvement with Dairy Queen.
Response: Dave has been a Dairy Queen owner since 1997. He first owned a Dairy Queen which did serve food,
but ice cream was the emphasis. He converted into a Grill and Chill in 2010 and moved the location of the store to
meet the design standard set by Dairy Queen International. The store has a drive through.
2. Was the store always a Grill and Chill?
A. If No:
i. If you were here then, do you recall how existing customers responded to the change?
ii. Are the customers different?
Response: We have a different crowd of customer’s at lunch time. We have “bar bell pricing deal” meaning deals.
“Fast fuelers” take best to the “bar bell” prices because they are in a hurry, don’t ask for changes to food items, and
don’t stay at the store to get an additional drink, make a mess or use the facilities.
3. How has your opinion of the DQ brand changed from before you were an employee to now?
Response: The brand has come a long way. We are trying to form a unified look and feel to the stores, and continue
to create a DQ culture. The growth has to be in food; we know that the ice cream market is stable but it will always
peak during certain months. The menu is a bit overwhelming and we could afford to scale back.
4. Are customers receptive to the food menu?
Response: Yes, we have good response and developed a lunch customer which we really didn’t have before.
A. What items are most popular?
Response: The #1, Bacon Cheeseburger meal and Original Cheeseburger Meal are the most popular. On their menu,
the number #1 is the bacon cheeseburger and for those in a hurry they just order the #1 to save time.
B. Do you see common pairings of food and desserts in orders? Or are food and desserts two different decisions for the most
Response: If the customer is alone or they are adults without kids and it’s lunch time, typically they only order food or dessert.
Because you get a lot of food when you order a meal, it would be a lot to consume a dessert with the meal. But if a customer
orders a meal, they can upgrade their drink to a small shake which is popular. Or some men, typically, will order a small cone
and it is before they get their meal or after the meal. If the customer is a family, then the purchase can vary.
C. Are food and desserts always ordered at the same time, or will diners come back to the counter to order dessert separately?
Response: Typically customers order everything at once, but customers have a luxury of ordering their food and
dessert and then going back up for their dessert once they are ready. Dairy Queen has the “pay now and get it later”
option for desserts. Customer’s keep their ticket and then bring it back up once they are ready for the dessert to be
5. Can you estimate what percentage of your sales are food only/ dessert only/ food and dessert combined?
Response: Food is approximately 35% of sales and dessert is 65% of sales. Dave couldn’t give an accurate answer
of food and ice cream combined.
6. Who are your main competitors?
Response: Everyone is our competitor. The area that the DQ is in is saturated with fast food restaurant options.
If we can take a little business from everyone, we will start to grow and establish a name for ourselves during the
lunch hour. “No competitor can take over our ice cream reputation so we always have that advantage.”
7. Is your business progressing the way you hoped it would?
Response: Yes, we had to grow sales by 20% in the first two years of business and we have done that. When
comparing sales in the peak months, April – September, sales have increased 60% if over a two year period. The
weather will always be a factor for the kick off months of April and May. Sales have been great this year, and it’s
only March. Last year, sales were down in April and May because of the snow.
8. Who are your best customers? Describe.
Response: Our “fast fuelers”. They don’t want to make changes to the meal they order, they don’t sit around, and
they leave little mess. Dave doesn’t want the store to be a high school hang out. The store is always crowded
after high school events, regardless if it is winter or summer. The grill and chill set up is great because they can
accommodate a large number of people.
9. Do you offer cross promotions which cross food and dessert? How successful are they?
Response: We do offer cross promotions, for example a cheeseburger and small blizzard. He couldn’t tell me if
they were or weren’t successful. But Dave is a believer that the single focused purchases are better received
because dessert and food are too much for the average customer. Dave has to follow promotions that come from
corporate, but he can offer his own promotions. He has mailed a coupon booklet to the local area, and that has
come back. It offers a free cheeseburger and discounted small sundae for $1.99.
10. Do you get sense of how successful Grill and Chills are?
Response: They are doing well, and eventually all Dairy Queen’s will be a grill and chill. To convert all Dairy
Queen’s into the grill and chill, corporate is offering incentives to certain franchise owners.
11. What could make them more successful?
Response: Better advertising would help with sales. The goal is always to sell more. Corporate controls
advertising and it is heavy during the summer months. Dave believes advertising needs to be year round in order
to get to the food consumer. Dairy Queen’s history of an ice cream store is so prominent in the mind of the
customer that the food needs to be emphasized on an ongoing basis. More Dairy Queens need to be opened.
There should be a Dairy Queen every five to ten miles, like a McDonald’s. The frequency will remind the
consumer of who we are.
Key Points: Jordan Manske
Loyal to some restaurants for lunch but not for other meals.
Would change lunch spot for variety and price.
Eats at fast food places twice a week, including late night.
Favorite quick lunch place is Silk Road, but doesn’t choose to lunch most days. Likes it because it’s cheap, convenient with good-
tasting, large portioned food. Has other places that are closer to him, but if he is eating lunch, he will make the trip.
He is not much of a sweets guy (would rather eat more of a real meal) and doesn’t want to travel to two places. He will get a
McFlurry at McDonald’s or Blizzard from DQ (but not as many locations, inconvenient, and more expensive).
Fast food standards only consist of food and price.
Coupon would encourage trial.
Product extension: “Once I find something I really like I don’t want to change and risk not liking what I get when I know I will
love my go-to”.
He likes food from food courts because he can mix and match his meal and eat from two different places.
Fast food advertisements do not affect him.
Routine with eating: limit going out to weekends, used to have a Friday Chinese tradition, makes running list of places he wants to
Adding items outside brand image: doesn’t affect decision to go and eat, doesn’t order these items, he thinks it’s a little odd.
Brand image is classic/old-school vibe, dessert selection.
Jordan Manske continued:
Doesn’t consider DQ when choosing a place to go because there isn’t one by him
Focus only on desserts: he liked the product selection and the burger he tried was good
Advertising: “ Couldn’t give you a jingle or slogan, knows that DQ is red, he knows that it features milkshakes”
He would go more if there were more locations and if product and price offerings remained the same
He last ate at a DQ in summer of 2010 at a full service DQ
In terms of food offerings, DQ reminds him of burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches and dessert
Key Points: Clancy Amadei
Coupon would encourage trial.
Rarely eats out but when does, is loyal to a few restaurants because of convenience, healthy, good-tasting food and a
welcoming atmosphere. (Panera, Del Sol)-Changes when she’s with friends.
Doesn’t usually eat dessert (works at cupcake shop) so if she does, she eats there.
Does not go to food courts with friends and doesn’t usually go to chain fast food-mostly family run.
Ideal lunch place: good price, atmosphere, choices and flavors.
Usually sticks to foods she knows rather than trying new ones.
Product extensions: “I like it as long as the quality is good. It is always nice to only make one stop for everything.”-
usually aren’t first choice.
Decide about lunch depending on how hungry she is, who she’s with, price and proximity
Advertisements about fast food is effective when she’s hungry.
Clancy Amadei continued:
Only thinks of it as a dessert place and thinks that should be their main focus because they do it well but a few lunch items
on the menu is good and helps make it a one-stop deal for people.
Goes to DQ about 3X a year-would go more if there were more locations.
Advertising: “I know that they had a mouth that talked about DQ for awhile, but I’m not sure about now. And I have no
idea what the jingle is.”
“I love Dairy Queen, that was the only ice cream shop in my hometown and used to go all the time.”
Doesn’t know where the nearest one is to her or what they offer (full service or treat).
Would go for lunch because they have good hot dogs.
When looking for places to eat, it would be her second choice for dessert. Great quality and low price.
Where she eats depends on mood, financial situation - may eat somewhere nicer if she just got paid, eats out when she
doesn’t feel like cooking
Chooses lunch spot based on location, time, cost and mood
Will use coupons for meals
Huge Dairy Queen Fan
Doesn’t go there for meals
NaCherrie Cooper continued:
Loves their ice cream
Season doesn’t matter - will eat ice cream year round, even in winter
Grew up going to Dairy Queen with her family
Would wear branded or logoed clothing - t-shirts, hats, etc.
Would like to see more seating at DQ locations
Doesn’t know where DQ locations are in Chicago - other than the one on Wabash and Congress
Goes to Dairy Queen alone or with others
Sometimes hides her ice cream eating from others - i.e. boyfriend, nieces and nephews
“I have been known to lie to my boyfriend and tell him I’m going to Target, but I really go to Dairy Queen and eat the ice cream in
my car before I get home.”
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