Red Robin Netnography

Niraj Sharma |
 03/23/11 |
4 min read

Personally, I love Red Robin but wish they were easier to find. I saw a lot of them in southern California but they’re harder to find around here. Their burgers are really hot and juicy. I love the basket of fries, but a story I’m told by my grandma is that as a kid I found it very undignified and requested a plate to eat my burger and fries properly. I also love their steak fries—very “beefy.”

The first Red Robin opened in Seattle in 1969. The company now has more than 450 restaurants across the U.S. and Canada, where it offers “craveable,” high-quality menu items.

Positive Themes

The majority of positive comments pertain to the chain’s “great food,” with many items being singled out, including burgers, fries, salads, onion rings and mozzarella sticks.

  • headed down to Oakland tonight but our first stop will be the “Red Robin” for a nice big juicy burger…they truly have the BEST burgers i have ever eaten!! (source)
  • I love going to Red Robin to just order bottomless fries, and campfire sauce. Waitress probably was not happy bringing 5 cartons of fries. (source)
  • -Yawns.- Red Robins was yummy. =w= And I also found out that Yummm is trademarked by Red Robins. (source)

Many people (but not all, as we’ll see) like the “hide and seek” Red Robin commercial with kids, and find the restaurants kid-friendly.

    • really likes that red robin commercial with the little kids playing hide n’seek and the it girls says “red robinnnn” and all the hiding kids come out of hiding and say “yummmm”…funnyyyy …im bored okay. (source)

Diners also rave about the service and the friendliness of the staff. This is something Red Robin prides itself on—its website even publicizes random acts of kindness by its employees (which it calls Unbridled Acts of Kindness).

  • life with Norm .  I’ve written before about how Norm and I enjoy going to Red Robin. Over the years we’ve gotten to know quite a few of the crew at three different Red Robins in our area. Sometimes it feels like we’re just one of the gang because several of the servers and managers will stop by our table just to say hi and see how we are doing. (source)

Negative Themes

Service was the biggest negative theme, with complaints typically being about slow service or making a mistake on an order. This first sound bite, however, is a great example of poor service made right.

  • the other day i went to red robins with some family for me & my sisters free birthday burgers the service was sooo slooowww then they messed up my sisters order so she had to wait longer . & my dads burger was burnt so he had to send it back the manager came to our table to apologize and said that he took any of the burgers that had issues off the bill and would be giving us 25% off plus they allowed us to use 2 X $5 coupons we had as well in the end, for 7 of us, the grand total of the bill was $10.25!!! that made up for the long wait . (source)
  • Red Robin always messes my burger up. At least there were no tomatoes this time. (source)

Issues with the price of the food were the second biggest source of complaints. As we’ve seen with other products, though, many consumers are fair-minded enough to admit they’re getting value for their money.

Here’s the opposing view on those commercials many posters like—and the second sound bite illustrates the worst possible effect of a commercial.

  • Red robin commercials are sooo annoying and so are the people that say “reeeed robin, yum” . (source)

This poster echoes my frustration at finding a Red Robin nearby.

  • it’s cruel to taunt me with Red Robin commercials when there isn’t one to be found for 200 miles. not that I want to move to Yakima. 7:53 PM Mar 2nd via web. (source)


“Great food” was the dominant positive theme, and among the negative themes, complaints about the food were few, so Red Robin is clearly delivering food that people like. They charge more for it than other fast food chains, but consumers acknowledge it’s worth it.

An overarching goal of commercials is to get attention, and apparently Red Robin’s are doing that—but reactions are both positive and negative. A mildly annoying commercial isn’t a drag on business, but one that’s so annoying it makes consumers vow not to eat at the restaurants is a problem. I watched the “hide and seek” commercial many diners cited and found it neither as likeable nor as annoying as people who voiced their opinions. (But then, that’s why they voiced their opinions—because they felt strongly.) I also thought it was aimed more at children than adults, which may explain why many adults don’t like it.

When you look into the slow service theme, you find it’s because the restaurants are so popular and therefore crowded. Another complaint—no Red Robin nearby—is a case of unmet demand: Consumers want to go there but can’t find one close enough. So these two themes, while negative, are nonetheless indications of the chain’s success with diners.

Red Robin’s positioning as a “gourmet burger” chain is succeeding. Consumers are willing to go there—especially with coupons—to get better food. Judging from comments, the time is right for the company to add more capacity to its existing restaurants—thereby alleviating the “slow service” issue—and add more restaurants—alleviating the “no store nearby” issue. A classic win/win for the company and its customers.

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