Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) Q1 2020 Earnings Conference Call Transcript

Sep 19, 2019 • 08:30 am ET

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Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) Q1 2020 Earnings Conference Call Transcript

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Q & A
Operator
Operator

Thank you. We'll now begin the question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Thank you. Our first question is from Matt DiFrisco from Guggenheim Securities. Your line is open, sir.

Analyst
Matt DiFrisco

Thank you. My question is with respect to the Cheddar's, I guess, lagging in difference between Olive Garden and LongHorn. Would you attribute that mostly? It sounds like to the marketing spend; can you sort of bracket or compare how much -- pullbacks of marketing spend there was versus last year in either terms of dollars or terms of weeks of support, so we could get a better understanding of that?

Executive
Gene Lee

I'm not -- we're not going to get that granular with our spending in Cheddar's. I would just say that we now have enough transactional data to look at some things in Cheddar's we haven't had the opportunity to do before. And one of the big insights is that our frequency in Cheddar's is higher than any other Darden brand. And we married that up with some of the research that we were doing and we recognized that our awareness for this brand is extremely low. And our primary advertising had been more driven towards a frequency play. And we decided, once we have this insight during the quarter, we were pulling -- we pulled back from that type of activity. And now we're going go out and we're going to test and learn and understand how to -- best increase our awareness in markets.

We also recognized the fact that it's going to be more important than ever in this environment to continue to build out our markets, develop our -- become more efficient in those markets from a media standpoint. And I would say more -- use more traditional media to increase our awareness to drive this business. And so it was a really good quarter from that -- from an insight standpoint for us to really recognize. And we decided we were going to change direction and that's where we pulled back a little bit of the media spend during the quarter.

Analyst
Matt DiFrisco

Okay. And then, I guess, is there something different to the menu that may be triggered a change in frequency to the heavy, heavy user from the past, or is it new ownership that they noticed or something of that?

Executive
Gene Lee

No, it's just the fact that we actually have now the transactional data to be able to analyze and have that insight. That's why it's so important when we do an acquisition for us to put our systems in, so that we can get the data and then do our analysis.

Analyst
Matt DiFrisco

Understood. Thank you.

Operator
Operator

Thank you. Our next question is from David Tarantino from Baird. Sir, your line is open.

Analyst
David Tarantino

Hi. Good morning. Gene, I just wanted to talk to about the industry trends that you're seeing. It seems like your analysis in the prepared remarks that this was a little surprising that we've seen such soft trends especially in the most recent months. So just curious to