It’s not uncommon for brands to be born out of trends. Consumers ultimately inspire the creation of different concepts—demand for boutique fitness classes, for example, have led to the launch of cycling studios and boxing clubs across the country. A seemingly endless number of healthy food chains have also popped up as more consumers make nutrition a part of their lifestyle. But if and when those trends fade, trendy brands need to have a backup plan if they want to succeed in the long run.
Making a buzzy business last beyond its 15 minutes of fame requires strategic expansion and strong messaging. Without a foundation of customer loyalty, concepts will never be able to build the reputation and branding required to become more than a trend. One franchise brand that’s currently in the midst of that transformation is Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya.
Over the course of the last few years, ramen has become a growing trend among consumers. What was once known as a traditional Japanese dish is now served in restaurants all over the globe. For Kizuki, that means business has never been better. After originally starting in Japan back in 2003, the brand decided to franchise in the states in 2012. It made the move because it recognized the opportunity to capitalize on the increasing demand for ramen. And while the dish is still at the height of its popularity, Kizuki is already making plans to outlast the trend.
“I think being trendy is a good thing. But in order to last beyond the hype, you need to transform your experience from a trend into something that consumers want to experience on a daily basis. As a restaurant chain, that means offering menu options that fit our customers’ daily dietary preferences,” said Kevin Yu, one of Kizuki’s founders and partners. “By doing that, we’ll be able to take the Kizuki brand to the next stage.”
In order to create a menu and environment that will appeal to consumers once the hype surrounding ramen dies down, Kizuki is taking cues from its customers. The brand is actively paying attention to what they want to see pop up on its menu going forward, such as low sodium broth options and rotating ingredient options. Kizuki is also sure to keep its environment authentic—from cooking techniques to the design of its restaurants, the brand wants to create an atmosphere that can’t be found anywhere else.
The techniques Kizuki are utilizing can be duplicated by other brands, regardless of the segment they’re competing in. Creating a strong relationship with consumers and providing a service that can’t be duplicated enable trends to turn into something more.
“We’re constantly working to find ways to make Kizuki’s products be a must have for consumers. That’s the key to our long-term success—we want to see customers coming back because we serve the best ramen they can find,” said Yu. “Our ability to fill a void and cater to a need is what continues to fuel our growth across the U.S.”