Open Innovation Drives Subway Menu Innovation

Published May-22-19

To innovate its menu offerings a fast food restaurant franchise forges an open innovation partnership with a food and travel video network.

Subway/Tastemade, United States

The Story:

Open Innovation Drives Subway Menu Innovation Subway is one of the world's largest restaurant chains with more than 44,000 franchises operating in more than 100 countries. Although successful, an oft-made criticism of the brand is that it lacks menu innovation.

Well, that could now be a thing of the past thanks to an open innovation partnership with Tastemade, a video network that offers online food and travel related programming. The partnership is a multi-year collaborative agreement to develop new menu items in the US and other countries and to forge global and cultural connections with customers.

“Global innovation is key to driving our brand forward, and we are disrupting the way we've traditionally managed the process, which includes bold new strategic partnerships like the one we've crafted with Tastemade,” explained Len Van Popering, Subway's VP of Global Brand Management & Innovation.

“Through its global network of tastemakers and rich data-driven insights, Tastemade has its finger on the pulse of how people interact with, think about, and are influenced by food—and through this partnership, those insights will be embedded in Subway's food innovation around the world.”

Menu Innovations

Tastemade receives over 2.5 billion views a month in seven countries and its hundreds of tastemakers share their recipe ideas from countries that also host Subway restaurants. Use of these tastemakers will help to freshen up Subway's menu.

The first fruit of the partnership was ‘The Green Goddess Tuna Melt’ which first hit more than 3,000 US restaurants during the first half of 2019. It features flaked tuna blended with mayo and topped with shredded mozzarella cheese. Other ingredients include fresh spinach, onions, tomatoes and green goddess dressing.

Big Data for Menu Improvements

Tastemade and Subway will also use a data-driven approach to create new menu items. For example, at the time of writing this article, the partners are testing the BLT&E. Tastemakers had noted that audience members were looking for deviled egg recipes, commenting about them and sharing photos. This was becoming something of a hot topic and so Tastemade brought the information to Subway and the creative kitchen process whirred into action. The result is a sandwich made with deviled egg salad, Cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, and fresh tomato slices on Italian bread.

Speaking about the tastemakers Andy Dismore, Subway director of menu management and innovation said: "They're able to help us with what's on trend right now at the moment."

Future Plans

Initially, this open innovation collaboration will focus on North America and Latin America and will also include joint food development, insights into trends and curated innovation events.

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