Remarkable Brand Transformation of Ruth’s Chris Steak House

  • Travel & Hospitality

The Challenge

With its dependence on an older population segment and lack of brand vision and strategic framework, Ruth’s Chris Steak House was facing pressure from all directions. Vivaldi partnered with Ruth’s Chris to design the customer experience of the future and develop a brand strategy to drive recognition and relevancy among younger generations.

The Opportunity

To re-envision the customer experience, Ruth’s Chris had to develop a deep anthropological understanding of guests’ mindsets and behaviors. It was also crucial for the brand to communicate the specific drivers that truly differentiate Ruth’s Chris from the competition, with a forward view.

The Outcome

This successful partnership allowed Ruth’s Chris to create a holistic brand experience that delivers on its promise at every customer touchpoint and define the future of dining by catering to needs of its changing customers. Vivaldi’s longstanding relationship with Ruth’s Chris acted as a catalyst for the brand’s growth – achieving consistent positive topline growth.

Whetting the Appetite of a Younger Generation

Ruth’s Chris Steak House approached Vivaldi seeking brand development to improve and update their brand strategy, guest experience, and implementation initiatives. Ruth’s Chris wanted to implement a design for the future vision of a customer experience that would inspire and empower the organization to deliver on the brand promise, in the context of today’s and tomorrow’s customer needs and behaviors. Following the global financial crisis, there has been a shift in the value of fine dining, creating a need for greater relevance to today and tomorrow’s steak-eaters. Given Ruth’s Chris’ dependence on the Boomer segment, they were unsure of how to cater to the rising generations. Ruth’s Chris’ lack of brand vision and strategic framework was also handicapping the roll out of growth initiatives.

Perfecting the Recipe for a Strong Dining Brand

We wanted to discover more about Ruth’s Chris by gaining a deep understanding of the customer, the brand and what the future looks like. To improve Ruth’s Chris’ understanding of the wider population, Vivaldi Group sought to gain a cultural anthropological understanding of guests’ mindsets and behaviors, beyond dining out occasions. Through customers’ stories of memorable dining experiences we gained insight into the customers’ needs, goals, and challenges. We mapped out the typical steakhouse dining ritual, which included anticipation of the meal, arrival of the food, immersion in the dining experience, and a period of reflection after leaving the restaurant. We also discovered specific drivers that truly differentiated Ruth’s Chris from the competition. We explored and tested various options for the future customer experience design.

Vivaldi Group wanted to define and design the future customer experience by means of an orchestrated series of validated customer touch points and use a blueprint to define and implement a strategy for delivering the customer experience and a roadmap to get there. We conducted future trend research as well, to forecast the evolution of category and consumer needs. Our goal was to not simply create a positive customer experience but to capture future demand and build upon Ruth’s Chris vision. We wanted to tailor the experience to target customer needs and move the focus from the product to the experience as a whole, to treat every customer interaction as a precious resource, to deliver the brand promise through a holistic experience, design and create a space to attract, stimulate and engage, the customer and tell a great story to inspire and empower the organization. Vivaldi wanted to accomplish all of this with a forward-looking view.

The Sweet Taste of Success

As a result of our work, we succeeded in sharpening Ruth’s Chris brand strategy and positioning. We initiated a mindset transformation and cultural change within the organization to help Ruth’s Chris think more about their changing customers and how to cater to them. Vivaldi also helped to create a model for inter-agency collaboration to assist with coordinated campaign planning. We helped Ruth’s Chris perform ongoing brand performance tracking so they would be able to see where they were excelling and where their challenges still remained. In this way they would be able to focus in on the challenges for future growth.