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How Wing Zone’s Consumer Value Proposition Keeps the 25-Year-Old Brand Growing

The craveable fast-casual concept keeps its fanbase of Flavorholics™ satisfied thanks to award-winning flavors and rubs, best-in-class quality and convenient delivery options.

By Katie LaTourStaff Writer
SPONSORED 7:19PM 08/15/19

When it comes to high-quality flavor for a low price, hungry humans need look no further than delivery-focused fast-casual concept Wing Zone.

Originally developed by college students and friends Matt Friedman and Adam Scott while attending college in Gainesville, Florida, the personality- and flavor-packed concept was initially tested in the entrepreneurial pair’s frat house kitchen in 1991. What started as a passion project to bring tasty fried chicken wings to the University of Florida’s Gator community soon translated into the brand’s flagship store in 1993; next, Friedman and Scott began franchising the concept with store No. 7 out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1999.

Ten years later, Wing Zone became an international franchise operation upon opening its first international location in Panama City, Panama. Today, Wing Zone claims a footprint of over 80 restaurants in six countries—and shows no signs of slowing down.

So what makes Wing Zone a concept so craveable that its fans are known affectionately as Flavorholics™? First and foremost: the menu.

“We offer 17 award-winning wing flavors, with 14 traditional-style and three flavor rubs,” said co-founder and CEO Matt Friedman. “We’re all about providing our fans with the best flavors on the planet and we invest in research and development for regular menu innovation to meet the demand of our loyal Flavorholics.”

Although Wing Zone started with a pared-down menu of original (bone-in) wings, five wing flavors, fries and soft drinks, variety has come to be the spice of Wing Zone life. Today, guests can choose from original, boneless, breaded, char grilled tenders or thighs; hand-breaded tenders; still-sizzling beef and veggie burgers; flavorful wraps and toasted quesadillas; or fresh, crisp salads. A mix of flavors and rubs across the heat spectrum means that every guest is a master of their own flavor journey.

What’s more, all of this innovation has come without sacrificing the quality that has characterized Wing Zone from day one.

“We have locations right next to major delivery competitors like Domino’s and we win out because of the quality of our product,” said Wing Zone’s Chief Operating Officer, Hair Parra. “The difference is our flavor; once guests try us, they’re hooked.”

Domestically, Wing Zone finds a natural home in college towns and markets with a high proportion of military veterans. To hold its own with a segment dominator like Domino’s, then, is no small victory—especially for a concept focused on what North American markets typically regard as an “add-on” item: wings.

“Our success really demonstrates our proof of concept and the power of our Flavorholics,” said Friedman. “Our proven model shows that wings are a main menu item, and that’s great for consumers because it means that we can enter seemingly competitive markets with other delivery options and still prove that we’re just more craveable.”

In addition to a can’t-beat offering, Wing Zone also differentiates itself in the chicken wing segment by prioritizing an area that its competitors have historically ignored, but which Wing Zone has always kept as a core focus: delivery.

“We use both third-party and in-house delivery services in order to provide our Flavorholics with the best possible customer experience,” said Friedman.

Asked what guests who are new to the brand can expect of a Wing Zone location, Friedman clarified that, unlike competitors, the brand does not identify as a sports bar.

“People often think about Buffalo Wild Wings or Hooters when they think about wings, but we could open directly next to a Buffalo Wild Wings without issue because they’re not a competitor,” said Friedman.

Of Wing Zone’s No. 2 spot in the segment, Friedman had much to say.

“We’re in challenger position right now, but the truth is, we’re better,” he said. “We have a better culture, better menu and we offer delivery. And there’s a reason that our fans are nicknamed Flavorholics—they’re passionate in a way that no other fanbase out there is. That’s what keeps us hungry to keep growing and delivering on our promise for second-to-none flavors.”

So what’s next for Wing Zone as businesses and consumers alike move into the second half of the year?

“New flavors are always on our radar,” said Friedman. “We’re gearing up for some exciting LTOs this fall. We’re expanding in target markets across the U.S. Overall, we just have an insatiable appetite for innovation. So stay tuned.”