Earlier this week, Steven Marks (the founder of GYG) appeared on Sky News with Taryn Williams (the founder of The Right.Fit) for their “Entrepreneurial Masterclass” segment.
The panel was on the value of brand, marketing and positioning in business.
Some of his story might be familiar to you. He was raised in New York and came to Australia to notice that there was no good Mexican food. He saw a hole in the market and a great opportunity. But what you might not know is how the brand was built, how big it is now and how big it’s about to become.
Here’s a quick snapshot of where GYG is right now:
- There are over 80 restaurants in Australia and 90 worldwide (including Singapore and Japan)
- It’s the fastest growing fast food chain in Australia
- Voted best customer service by Roy Morgan for 2017
- We now have their sights set on the U.S and New Zealand
- Over the next 18 months, GYG plans to build at least 36 restaurants, with 24 being drive-thru
With this level of growth and 100’s of requests to become franchisees per month, it’s no wonder that Steven said he went into therapy after his investors pitched franchising to him.
The panel discussed the importance of your business brand, but also the importance of your personal brand. Steven was adamant that both his business brand and his personal brand are about “keeping it real” with every facet of the business. Keeping it real with our customers. Keeping it real with our staff. Keeping it real with our ingredients. Keeping it real with our flavours. Keeping it real with our social justice work and keeping it real with Mexican authenticity.
What did he mean by this?
At GYG, the food is all preservative free and is cooked using fresh ingredients, which are prepared in-store every day. There is full transparency between the leadership team and all our crew, from our open kitchens to provision of all our nutritional information. Our customers know what’s in our food. Our culinary team and Chef Cindy are from Mexico, so our meals are traditional Mexican recipes full of authentic flavours. In fact, it’s the brand’s first value – “it’s all about the food.”
To put it in Steven’s words, GYG aren’t “phoneys.”
So where is the GYG brand going moving forward? Aside from conquering international markets, there are plans to increase GYG’s higher animal welfare activism by launching new, plant-based menu options that are still nutritious and delicious. A reduction in the over-consumption of meat will also help minimise our carbon footprint. And by minimising our levels of saturated fats, we’ll also be creating even healthier alternatives to our menu.
Like many brands, GYG’s marketing strategy has been completely revolutionised by the rise of social media. Moving forward, the brand intends on having a very digital-heavy marketing strategy. That’s not to say that you won’t see us on billboards or hear about us on the radio anymore, but when you consider the fact that 3 million Australians were informed about our Cinco De Mayo $5 burrito offer through digitally, it’s pretty hard to ignore the power of online marketing.
Over 24k people RSVP’d on Facebook and once someone found out about it, they would tag their friends. Then the interaction would appear in the feeds of all their mutual friends. It became digital word-of-mouth advertising where our customers genuinely ended up spreading it like wildfire.
When the conversation moved towards influencer marketing, Steven also mentioned that GYG are currently talking with well-known Vegan and Vegetarian influencers to help launch the new plant-based menu, as “92% of people purchase a product that’s been recommended to them by someone that they don’t know.”
Steven summarised the GYG marketing strategy by saying “what marketing really is, is having people talk about that experience.”
In the early days, Steven and Robert had to educate consumers on what real Mexican food really was. And even today, they’re still educating consumers with their FBDs (Free Burrito Days) where up to 5000-6000 burritos are given away when a new store opens.
Whether this is in-person or online, the goal is to get people to experience GYG and get them talking about it with their family and friends.
Steven didn’t have much to say about positioning yourself in the market. But what he did have to say was extremely surprising. When asked about competition and setting your brand apart, he simply said:
“I think it’s easy to say as you get bigger, but truly, to focus too much on competition is such a waste of time. It actually loses your focus. My team is relentless in being the best. You have to be able to look in the mirror and know that you’re doing the best job you possibly can be. Stay focussed to what your game-plan is and what journey is going to be. Let the competition worry about you.”
I could hear my Uni lecturers screaming “YOU NEED TO DO A COMPETITOR ANALYSIS” but such a bold statement is honestly a testament to how much GYG is leaving their competitors behind. It’s quite frustrating to know about the upcoming menu items, technology initiatives and technological partnerships that GYG have planned, and not be allowed to write about them. But trust me when I say this – Steven Marks isn’t bluffing when he says Guzman Y Gomez is about to revolutionise the fast food industry and cause some serious disruption.
Like I said, not being able to discuss what GYG has up their sleeves is quite frustrating. But the future of GYG is very bright. There are a lot of exciting things ahead, and we can’t wait for our customers to see them. We can’t wait for our competitors to see them either. Like Steven said – serious disruption.
The brand isn’t just about selling burritos though. Steven believes the brand “has the opportunity to be a massively successful global company, and make real social change.” And we’ve already made a start.
Sponsoring Misión México – an orphanage of 40-50 children in Mexico run by an Australian couple – is just the tip of the iceberg. Steven spoke of the company’s future philanthropic endeavours, which are motivated by his own family:
“I’ve got two daughters who have every opportunity in the world to have whatever future they want…and I can’t sleep at night knowing that other girls don’t have that opportunity. So I’m now starting to build this mission that I want all little girls in the world to not only be well-nourished, but to also have access to education.”
I should let you know that when he said this, I lightly touched my chest and whispered “my ovaries…”
I should also let you know that I’m a dude.
Long story short, or, long blog short, GYG is a rapidly growing business that attributes their growth to a clear sense of brand identity. Our plan on taking this growth to another level with a new digital-based marketing strategy. We’re focused on being the best possible brand we can be, without letting our competitors influence us too much. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And not only that, but our founders are great guys who genuinely care about using their success to make some positive changes in the world. Changes in animal welfare, ecological sustainability and the education and nourishment of underprivileged kids.
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