Submarine warfare: Quiznos tosses focus groups for “speed dining”

Punch Line: To speed time-to-market, Quiznos employs rapid-fire taste tests that help it give customers what they want, sooner.

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Excerpted from Bloomberg Business Week: Damn the Torpedoes! Getting Quiznos, January 14, 2010

Quiznos has always positioned itself as a cut above Subway in the fast-food market — and priced its sandwiches accordingly.

While restaurant operators regularly enlist consumers for feedback, many have turned away from traditional focus groups … to avoid the peril of group think from a methodology that some experts say is “a bit dated”.

Quiznos  swear by a method called “speed-dining”.  The company  empanels as many as 25 groups in back-to-back, 90-minute tastings.

By reworking recipes based on snap reviews, Quiznos can get products from test kitchen to the market in six months … twice as fast as competitors.

Now Quiznos is gunning for upmarket consumers with two new subs priced at up to $7.49.

That may seem foolhardy, with unemployment at 10%. But Quiznos is confident.

After all, speed diners ate them up in October.

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