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US Chain Chuck E. Cheese to Enter Australia’s Family-Friendly Franchising Scene

It’s time for a new challenger to enter the franchise scene, with family entertainment restaurant Chuck E. Cheese set to launch in Australia, after striking a strategic franchise partnership with Royale Hospitality.

 

 

Australia has a long and storied history of franchising – with many restaurants having launched in our sunburnt country in the last five decades, often with the support of specialised branding agencies like WebOracle. What can the potential Chuck E. Cheese franchisees of tomorrow learn from franchise launches of decades past?

 

 

As we’ll soon find out, there’s no single recipe for success in the Australian market. While there are strategies that work, there have been many brands that have failed, either to land in Australia, such as Kaufland, or even after decades in business (here’s looking at you, Godfreys).

 

 

Six Decades of Food Franchising in Australia
Franchising has a long and storied history in Australia. Depending on who you ask, you could say that franchising has been around nearly as long as colonisation – with stories being told of rum licenses being provided by the Governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie, way back in 1810.

 

 

Modern definitions of franchising are a little different from a simple license, however – and according to research published in the International Journal of Franchising Law, the first fast food franchises that appeared in Australia did so in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with brands like KFC, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s becoming the first to set foot on Australian shores.

 

 

In the decades since there’s been a gold rush of food franchises – heralding from all over the world. Australia’s seen many brands successfully launch on Australian shores – from the peri-peri wonders of Nandos in the 1990s, to local success stories like healthy burger chain Grill’d in the 2000s, Australia has shown that it’s willing to put just about anything on a plate and try it.

 

 

Innovating Down Under: The McCafe
What makes a brand appeal to families, though? Let’s explore the juggernaut that is McDonald’s – first franchised in Australia in 1974, and now in more than a thousand locations across Australia.

 

 

McDonald’s, curiously enough, is rarely called as such in Australia – in fact, you’re more than likely to hear someone walk up and call it Maccas. It’s so common, that over the years, even some restaurants have rebranded to capture the enthusiasm for the brand.

 

 

McDonald’s, in Australia, is fundamentally defined by the quirks that customers have. The Aussie larrikin stands out, as we dip our french fries in a Hot Fudge Sundae, or grab a cheeky Big Mac after a big night out.

 

 

The Macca’s car park became a place of celebration – where the family might head out for lunch for a treat after the footy or new drivers might go to celebrate getting their license. In a few instances, it’s also acted as a delivery room.

 

 

The enthusiasm Aussies have for McDonald’s has had global implications – with the McCafe, first launched in 1993 in Swanston Street, Melbourne, making its presence known in more than sixty countries worldwide.

 

 

The Lessons of Greg Creed
McDonald’s isn’t the only brand success story in Australia, though – one could argue that in fact, one of Australia’s greatest marketing exports has been former Yum! Brands CEO, Greg Creed, global master franchisor of well-known brands like KFC and Taco Bell.

 

 

From 1994 to 2001, Greg Creed was Chief Marketing Officer for KFC Australia, then owned by PepsiCo and sporting fresh new uniforms. Over his tenure as CMO, marketing campaigns involving celebrities like Elle McPherson helped to capture the imagination of the Australian public, making Australian KFC franchises some of the most profitable outside of the United States, according to annual reports of the time.

 

 

In a book, sharing his experiences in marketing, Greg attributes marketing success at Yum to three simple characteristics – relevance, ease, and distinctiveness. These lessons were learned, honed in Australia, and exported to the U.S. as Greg rose through the ranks at Yum!

 

 

You can see the relevance, ease, and distinctiveness strategy applied, all through Greg’s work in the U.S. – and particularly in early 2000s promotions such as Taco Bell’s Fourthmeal and Think Outside The Bun. His legacy can also be seen in the types of promotions that KFC Australia run today, with campaigns like ‘Did someone say KFC?’.

 

 

An Exciting Time for Food Franchising
Launching in a new market can be challenging – however, while there have been failures in brand franchising in Australia in the past, fast food is generally considered an area where Aussies will give anything a go.

 

 

Chuck E. Cheese looks set to capture the vibrant times of kids’ parties of the past – a fond memory for people who used to be kids. With a slice of cheesy pizza and some arcade games, we’ll be able to reinvigorate that sense of joy that we, as children, felt at kids’ parties.