Get A Clue

Trends

OUT: Rotisserie chicken, Bagels, Cosmetics companies, Video rental stores.
IN: Wraps, Frozen desserts, Health-care businesses, Video game franchises.

HOT: Golf
EVEN HOTTER:
Women's Golf

MM-MMM GOOD: SOUP BARS

When Jerry Seinfeld and crew obsessed about the Soup Nazi, they inadvertently created must-eat TV. "Everyone in New York wants to franchise a soup bar because of the publicity associated with the `Seinfeld' episode," says Francorp's Mark Siebert. "First, you've got `Seinfeld,' then soup bars pop up, and then franchising comes later. It tends to be sort of a phase three. So soup bars, says Siebert, should be "one of [franchising's] next big food trends of 1998."

IN TRANSITION: HOME-MEAL REPLACEMENT

A surprise ending to franchising's Midas story unfolded this year, as Boston Chicken Inc. ran into major snags (see "Extra! Extra!" page 170). "While home-meal replacement is still a strong sector, I think the rotisserie chicken trend has probably run its course," says Francorp's Mark Siebert. "The Chicken" (as it's known on Wall Street) may be running around with its head cut off, however, the home-meal replacement trend that it spawned remains viable: More restaurant meals were taken out than eaten in last year. Who will take over the reins of this major opportunity? Franchising's big guns have already misfired in this arena: McDonald's and Burger King failed to even make a ripple in the market with their first attempts. "What we'll see over the course of the next year or two is more existing franchisees trying to target this segment of the marketplace," says Siebert. "Rather than the evolution of one new franchise concept, my guess is existing franchisors are going to find different ways to attack that market."

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This article was originally published in the January 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Get A Clue.

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