The Tilted Bowl
Importing and Branding an INternational Concept for the US Market
The Ask: Import an international concept into the U.S. as a new branded product or service.
Main Output: Brand Development = Architecture + Strategy + Design
Research: We conducted extensive research into products and services that are only available internationally, and that might demonstrate potential for success in the domestic U.S. market. We recognized that whatever concept we chose, we would need to adapt it to appeal to American consumers. Ultimately we settled on the Japanese concept of "create your own packaged cup of ramen."
Insight: Americans love novelty and instant gratification, particularly in their food, but also desire customization and quality. This is why the success of fast casual concepts has skyrocketed in recent years, and traditional fast food models have struggled.
Approach: We considered how to transform the Japanese model of creating a cup of ramen using freeze dried ingredients into something just as novel, but more fitting for the U.S. market. We happened upon another insight in our approach, namely that Americans view ramen in extremes. On the one end, it's an inexpensive styrofoam pile of MSG upon which college students survive, and the other, an overly priced, extravagant, indulgence in NYC. We not only needed to alter the concept, but also the perception of ramen in the minds of the American consumer.
To fulfill these objectives, we created a cashless, mobile first, fast casual ramen restaurant built on a completely digital customer experience.
Rationale: The fast casual (FC) model is the fastest growing segment of the U.S. restaurant industry. Investors and venture capitalists are clamoring to find the next Chipotle or CAVA. However, as an increasing number of FC brands are popping up, the trend seems to be skewing toward the ultra-healthy, "Lululemon" crowd, which isn't for everyone. We saw an opportunity to bring a different type of quality to food with a fast casual ramen concept. Instead of the focus on food being "good for the body," we'd create food that is "good for the soul." Historically, ramen is actually meant to be eaten fast and once the diner has reached the last bit of broth, they tilt their bowls to get the last of it--a practice from which our name is derived. Another trend in the industry is the shift to mobile and cashless experiences. Customers increasingly turn to delivery and mobile ordering services, so we wanted to integrate those concepts into the foundation of the business model; and the cashless structure not only increases efficiency on the company side, but also reduces wait times for customers. Creating a digital first experience, with a streamlined focus on mobile, also provides the added benefit of innate customer data collection, which is essential to any business in today's economy.
Target: Hungry Urbanites. These are the innovators, creators, and culture seekers who are living high stress lives in urban environments. They expect efficiency and instant gratification, but also care about how food makes them feel.
Concept: Tilted Bowl.
Position-For hungry urbanites, we are a fast casual ramen shop offering convenient, delicious, and quality food that fosters exploration, technological innovation, and the spirit of time honored culinary tradition.
Purpose-To bring well being to people living high stress lives.
Personality- Restrained whimsy.
Value Proposition- Offering food that's quick, nourishing, and delicious, and that would otherwise take forever to make at home.
Communications Strategy- Discover your own tasty.
The mobile experience reinforces the brand promises of efficiency and personalization with a streamlined, easy, and personable UX.
Communications will be primarily social and mobile because that is where our audience is, and digital is our primary platform. Including bright and engaging visuals is essential.