Hooters may have been big in the 80s and 90s, but the restaurant chain is slowly dying out. For years now, its sales have constantly declined and the company has been forced to close several locations to survive. In 2011, after losing revenue worth $100 million, Hooters decided to close 35 locations. The company completed 30 years in 2013 and vowed to adopt new strategies and tactics to stay relevant. Yet between 2012 and 2016, Hooters had to close another seven per cent of its locations to stay profitable. Hooters has tried to change many things and yet the company continues to see a downward slide, primarily because at the centre of it all is a problematic business concept. In this video, we tell you about the things responsible for Hooters’ fall, including customers’ growing dissatisfaction with the brand as well as its food.
Hooters’ Customers Aren’t Very Happy with the Restaurant Chain
BrandIndex is a brand intelligence service that studies and measures the public’s perception of various brands. Company’s surveys and reports hold authoritative value in the market and correctly depict what consumers think about a particular brand. In 2013, Brandindex did an elaborate survey to analyze what customers think about Hooters. BrandIndex’s report came at a time when the sales at the restaurants had been down for months, mostly because people had finally begun to get over the orange hot pants craze. Further, the emergence of other restaurants with scantily clad women waitresses had also had some negative impact on the popularity of the Hooter restaurants. In its survey, BrandIndex asked Hooters’ customers to rate the restaurant on a numbered scale and not very surprisingly, most customers gave the restaurant a very low number. On a scale of 100 to -100, women rated the restaurant at -21 and the men’s average rating stood at 2, which are very dismal numbers.
Other than low customer ratings, Hooters has also been deemed a terrible place to work. In 2015, the University of Tennessee’s psychology department talked to the restaurant chain’s staff to understand the impact of the restaurant’s working environment on the staff members’ mental health. The survey revealed that the majority of waitresses experienced some level of depression, anxiety and degradation while working at the restaurant. More importantly, most of the girls accepted to feeling demeaned and degraded most of the time. So, if you are someone who feels uncomfortable looking at Hooter Girls, you are one of the good ones. The Hooter girls certainly do not enjoy the attention they often get.
Millennials Are Not Interested in Hooters Girls’ Low-Cut Tank Tops
The first Hooters restaurant opened in 1983 and since the very beginning the restaurant chain has played up women’s sex appeal as its main selling point. Hooters Girls have a uniform — they wear low-cut white tank tops with scrimpy nylon orange runner’s shorts. That apart, they are also required to wear a ticket pouch, white loose socks with white shoes and tan pantyhose. Harping on the initial popularity of the Hooters Girls and their uniform, the restaurant chain also began selling t-shirts and sweatshirts to make more money. However, of late, this selling tactic has been failing to pull in customers and we know the reason. A recent survey revealed that people, especially men, do not enjoy ogling at women’s breasts anymore and therefore, the charm of the breastaurants is slowly dying down.
In simple words, nobody is interested in Hooters Girls’ low-cut tank tops and short nylon shorts anymore.
Hooters does not only hire women and compel them to wear clothes that most of them do not even feel comfortable in, but the casual dining restaurant chain also has a very discriminatory hiring policy, which it dauntlessly defends. Stay around and we will tell you more about it. In the meanwhile, do not forget to hit the like and subscribe buttons to stay updated on all our latest videos.
Boycotts and Protests Have Tarnished Hooters’ Image
Do you know what hurts a company’s image the most? Constant protests and boycotts and Hooters tend to attract a lot of those. In fact, every time a new Hooters location opens up, activist groups reach the new location to protect against everything Hooters stands for. Don’t believe us?
In 2010, Hooters announced that they are expanding in the UK with a new restaurant in Cardiff. Right before the location’s opening, massive protests erupted in front of the restaurant. People gathered in hundreds and shout slogans. Why? They believed that Hooters is a sexist institution that promotes a sexist culture. More importantly, according to the protestors, people want jobs but a job that does not take their dignity away. Ouch! For obvious reasons, Hooters had to delay the opening of their restaurant in Cardiff and though they still opened a Hooters restaurant in Cardiff, the damage was already done.
The same year, Marks & Spencer in Bristol announced that they would be subletting their Bristol location to Hooters. As soon as the news reached the tabloids, protesters gathered and threatened Marks & Spencer with a complete boycott. Similarly, in Birmingham, a Hooters location could stay open only for a year after which they had to shut down the location because of constant protests. In Sheffield, the protestors didn’t leave the spot until authorities declared they would not allow Hooters to open a restaurant in Sheffield. Another Hooters restaurant met with a similar fate in Scotland.
When a brand begins to attract this much negative publicity regularly, it is only understandable that most people start avoiding it altogether.
The New Generation Prefers Takeouts over Casual Dining
Hooters is a casual dining restaurant and over the last few years, the popularity of casual dining restaurants has witnessed a significant decline. Not just Hooters but other popular casual dining restaurants chains, such as Applebee’s and Outback Steakhouse, have also closed many of their locations. There are two reasons for this declining popularity of casual dining restaurant chains.
First, most millennials have a busy life and therefore, do not have the time to sit down and enjoy meals. For this reason, most millennials are preferring fast-casual chains, such as Chipotle, Five Guys and Panera, and meal delivery services over casual dining restaurants. Further, the growing popularity of wine bars and order-from-home takeouts have also dented the casual dining restaurant industry. Second, most millennials are becoming more and more health-conscious with each passing day and therefore, are preferring healthier food options over the food served at casual dining restaurants.
In 2013, after analyzing these changing choices, Hooters underwent a major overhauling and completely changed its look and appeal to entice young customers. The strategy team behind the restaurant chain decided to include new technology as well as advanced AV systems to attract more customers. Unfortunately, these changes weren’t enough the change the outlook millennials have developed towards casual dining restaurants.
Their Food Isn’t as Impressive as It Used to Be
Hooters opened its first restaurant in the 1980s and its popularity peaked during the late 80s and 90s. Believe it or not the breastaurant chain was worth $2 billion at one point in time. However, over the last few years, the restaurant chain has been witnessing a gradual decline in its sales.
Back in the 80s and 90s, people used to defend their choice to go to Hooters by saying the restaurant chain serves excellent food. Their wings used to be a favourite of everyone and therefore, were a huge crowd-puller. However, people’s expectations of food chains have changed now. Today, when people think of dining out, they want to have a unique meal cooked by a proper chef. Hooters realized this and on their 30th anniversary decided to update their menu.
In 2013, Hooters hired chef Gregg Brickman to run the Hooters’ kitchen. In an interview, Chef Gregg explained that when he joined the Hooters team, all kitchens used to have only one tool, a scissor. Why? Because Hooters was not making most of its food. Instead, they were serving packaged food after making a few changes to it. Yes, until 2013, everything you were eating at Hooters — wings and burgers — used to be frozen food. Though Hooters tried to change the way its kitchens worked, the changes it made weren’t enough to impress people. In this day and age, when diners want celebrity chefs cooking food, Hooters kitchen strategy has become old and doesn’t work anymore.
Young and Smart People Just Won’t Accept Their Discriminatory Hiring Policy
Thankfully, over the last few years, the conversation surrounding equal rights, equal pay and equal opportunities has intensified and even in this day and age, Hooters very brazenly defends its discriminatory hiring policy, a fact that clearly has not been working in its favour.
If you have been thinking how does Hooters get away with its policy that favours young and beautiful women over everyone else, let us explain the answer to you. In 1997, two young men interviewed at the restaurant chain and were turned down solely based on their gender. The two men filed a lawsuit against Hooters and won $3.75 million in settlements. Though Hooters agreed to pay the two men and decided to include some gender-neutral positions, the restaurant chain also provided a legal defence which allowed it to continue with its discriminatory hiring policy. Hooters used the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to its advantage and argued that the very essence of Hooters’ business policy would get eroded if the company changed its discriminatory hiring policy and therefore, having a smokin’ hot body is a bonafide occupational qualification.
Further, according to Hooters, they do not hire waitresses but entertainers, and therefore, it is only obvious to expect the kind of attributes they look for in their women staff. Well, Hooters may have won the legal argument but people are not stupid. Their discriminatory policy makes smart and young people angry and is shifting opinions against the casual dining restaurant chain.
So, what are your thoughts? Do you think Hooters indeed is a sexist institution that promotes the objectification of women and therefore, it is a good thing that its popularity is declining? Or, are you of the opinion that while Hooters promotes titillation, if we are protesting against Hooters, we must also protest against all forms of titillation, including strip bars and stag parties? We really want to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please leave a comment.
Before you move to the next Facts Verse video, like and subscribe to our channel and press the bell icon to stay updated about all our latest videos.