On the heels of a difficult third quarter, which was negatively impacted by some bad weather in the Southeast and up the East Coast, officials at Ruby Tuesday said during their April 7 earnings conference call that they plan to focus on the customer engagement segments of women and families.

Ruby Tuesday CEO JJ Buettgen talked about the key priorities of the company’s brand transformation.

“We continue to make progress in the third quarter on several key brand transformation initiatives that we believe can help us attract more women and families over time, and drive more visits from our current guest space,” Buettgen explained, according to Seeking Alpha. “More specifically, we are encouraged by our early results in attracting and delighting women and families through digital and social media with our garden bar test and by the early results we are seeing at our remodeled locations. We continue to believe that the biggest opportunity to drive more significant top line growth over time is by re-engaging with women and families.”

Buettgen noted that women and families are the two consumer segments that have experienced the most erosion in Ruby Tuesday’s business.

“We are therefore testing a number of initiatives and evaluating customer feedback to determine the most effective way to facilitate deeper interaction and connection with these two consumer segments, and in doing so, attract new guests to Ruby Tuesday,” he said. “Our first priority is to communicate more effectively to women and families, and we are testing different marketing mediums and messages. On our last call we indicated that in November we allocated 100% of our advertising investment to digital and social media, utilizing platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and online video. We continue to focus on digital and social media during the third quarter, testing a variety of creative executions and targeting strategies.”

What’s more, the company’s second priority is to deliver culinary innovation in value and food offerings through menu and garden bar enhancements. Ruby Tuesday launched the new menu in early November that included almost a dozen new items and higher-quality ingredients, along with more appealing food presentations.

“This change impacted about 50% of our guest preference,” Buettgen said. “So far, we have received positive guest feedback on these new and improved items such as our half-pound burger baskets, our new chicken, new seafood dishes, and our new chef-inspired shrimp flavors.”

Buettgen noted that the third quarter was impacted by a volatile weather period, softness in the casual dining industry, and increased promotional activity by peers.

“Despite this challenging environment, we continue to believe that our key brand initiatives will drive improvements in guest counts,” he said.

Same-restaurant sales declined 3.1% for the quarter.

“The competitive environment was also more challenging in the third quarter, with more price-pointed promotions and more aggressive price points,” Buettgen added.

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