Is the high-quality sub sandwich chain Quiznos about to go under? It seems they have a problem making enough paper bread in the economy to keep going. Will it go the way of Borders?
It will be sad indeed if Quiznos vanishes from the scene. What was its main problem? The International Business Times has a good analysis:
It put a lot of its hopes on its hot sandwiches concept, but clearly underestimated the ease in replicating that method. While Quiznos might have thought it was revolutionary stuff, Subway and Potbelly clearly didn’t.
How’d those two companies respond? They simply added toasters to their stores, thereby eliminating Quiznos’ one and only advantage.
Now it no longer offered a unique food option, nor was its pricing competitive. With a bland option at a bad price, why would any customer go there?
Even worse is that Quiznos was never able to combat Subway’s creative and popular advertising campaigns. Over the course of the years, Subway utilized sports stars, such as Michael Phelps, Michael Strahan and more, to help push its products.
It also had the remarkable story of Jared Fogle losing 245 pounds in a year eating simply Subway. Subway sales doubled to over $8 billion after the start of the Fogle campaign. Pure coincidence? Possible though a dip in sales in 2005 when Subway stopped featuring Fogle in its ads would suggest otherwise.
But Jared Fogle was just one blow to Quiznos. The ultimate deathblow was likely Subway’s $5 dollar foot-long. It had a catchy tune, a great name, and most importantly a great price.
The $5 dollar foot-long sandwich craze took the nation by storm and Quiznos had no way to react to it. Sure it had a $4 “torpedo” sandwich, but never gained much traction with it.
Quiznos’ marketing efforts did little to inspire. Michael Clarke Duncan saying “Mmm….toasty,” just didn’t have the same appeal of the $5 dollar foot-long song.
Subway had better prices, better marketing, and better name recognition. How exactly did Quiznos expect to survive?
And perhaps there was another reason.
I travel a good deal and there were a couple of Quiznos subs I liked, but a lot of them had things on it that I didn’t like. I stopped in one place where I asked them to leave a lot of the special ingredients off and just do a simpler version. The person refused.
“No, sir, we don’t do subs like that.”
I didn’t want the one they had so I went to Subway where the same problem didn’t exist.
It reminded me a bit of this famous Jack Nicholson scene from Five Easy Pieces (but I didn’t fight it, I just figured they couldn’t do it so I went to Subway):
Other than that Quiznos was indeed high quality, good ingredients, real “toast” and upscale.
But, as the International Business Times notes, perhaps a bit too up in an economy that is now down.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.