Package deal

Recently, while waiting in line at In ‘n’ Out (regular readers of my blog know I’m a burger junkie), I passed the time by adding up the individual item prices and comparing them to the package prices. Guess what? They’re the same.

I have to admit my surprise. As consumers, we’re trained to believe that package deals are somehow better. But as a marketer, I should have known that packages are more about convenience than savings. Convenience for the customer, certainly. But also for the business. It’s one of the reasons behind In ‘n’ Out’s legendary efficiency.

Since its humble Southern California beginnings in 1948, In ‘n’ Out has been the quintessential American success story. Here’s why:

Keeping it simple – When you stop to think about it, In ‘n’ Out features only three items – Burgers, fries, drinks. Makes it easy to order, easy to move people through those lines.

Sense of identity – They know who they are. And who they aren’t. You won’t find any ill-conceived forays into pizza or salad or Mc-anything. The philosophy is “do one thing and do it well.”

Bigger isn’t necessarily better – In ‘n’ Out won’t expand beyond the western U.S. because they’d have to freeze the beef. Frozen beef equals inferior quality. This is a company that protects the product at all costs.

Cult-like following – Nobody’s more loyal than In ‘n’ Out customers. They sport the gear, know the “secret menu” and wait in those lines. The only thing missing is Kool-Aid.

Treat the employees well – By all accounts, the help is well-paid and well-treated (compared to those other fast food joints). That’s why the smiles seem genuine. Hey, if I ever get to retire, I’ll work there for the food.

So there you go. Basic principles that can be applied to any business. What are you waiting for?

See you in line.

Brian Rouff is the managing partner of Imagine Marketing.
Contact Brian at

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