Most brands tend to focus on regional expansion first, and then international. It’s important for them to build awareness nationally before they expand into other markets. However, this is not the case with the Shake Shack brand.
Shake Shack is a bit of an anomaly. Whereas other giants in the industry such as McDonald’s (38,000 locations) and Burger King (18,000 locations) have a large footprint, Shake Shack’s is relatively small at 235 locations.
However, while Shake Shack is small, what makes the company interesting is its decision to buck the trend of brand expansion. Shake Shack is putting global brand expansion as their priority.
For the company, expanding internationally was a way of hedging their bets. “A failure in Dubai wouldn’t impact US business.” is the philosophy behind the move.
But what makes this move possible for Shake Shack is one thing: consistency. Their brand lives consistently, everywhere it is presented and there is no exception.
Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy put it best:
“You’re only as good as the experience you have, […] If the experience differs from what it is in the US, then it can give people a different perception of the brand.”
To ensure that the brand is appealing to their international consumers, the brand partners with the right international operators, closely replicating their core menu and experience while adding local flair that will appeal to residents.
In short, Shake Shack is doing two things: keeping their brand consistent and making consumers care.
While most companies focus on regional expansion first, Shake Shack’s move to expand globally is wise because they are putting the work in first.
They are partnering with local operators to ensure that their restaurants resonate with the local population (making people care), while also ensuring their experience is consistent across the board.
Shake Shack is indeed bucking traditional wisdom, but by sticking to the tried and true steps of ensuring consistency across their brand they are creating a delicious recipe for success.
— Ryan Kelley, Brand Strategy Account Coordinator