Commensal : The Vegetarian Restaurant that Kills Chickens…
The Commensal chain of vegetarian restaurants, which first opened on Montreal’s Rue St-Denis back in 1977, found itself on the brink of bankruptcy in 2013 after making a strategic decision that turned out to be a recipe for failure.
The Failure :
In an attempt to beef up sales, it decided to add chicken, crab and shrimp to a menu that it defined as ‘flexitarian’.
The upshot? Loyal customers abandoned restaurants, shared their frustration and their disappointment on social media and Commensal was forced to close most of its restaurants. Commensal (its brand, production facility and retail products) is now owned by the operator of Mikes and Scores.
The Moral :
Once you own a word in people’s minds, ‘vegetarian’ in the case of Commensal, you don’t fiddle around with it. Especially when it has an ethical connotation. By targeting everyone, Commensal became just like any other restaurant since they’re all ‘flexitarian’, basically. After all, anyone can order a fresh tossed salad at a steakhouse. Once again, we see what happens when management fails to understand its customers and its brand’s DNA.
Image Source : Le Commensal