- Chili's is debuting a line of merchandise that will be available for one day only on Cyber Monday, Nov. 26, at a new pop-up e-commerce site, WelcomeToChilis.com. Shoppers can sync the site to their calendars to set a reminder to shop, the restaurant chain said in a news release.
- The #ChilisLove crew, the brand's team of designers, shared sneak peeks of some of the merchandise on social media to gauge their followers' interest. The teasers generated buzz and inspired Chili's to offer items for sale. Each piece in the collection also has a specific story.
- A T-shirt with the tagline "I Feel God in This Chili's Tonight," for example, references a popular episode of "The Office" that features a Chili's location and later became a meme. There is also a Skillet Queso bomber jacket derived from a fan article professing her love for the menu item. The brand is also releasing a burger, rib, fajitas and margarita cufflink set inspired by the recent royal wedding.
Plenty of brands in the restaurant category have dropped e-commerce lines recently, but Chili's is timing its release to attract holiday shoppers and drive sales during one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, Cyber Monday. Each item having a specific story tied to a meme, pop culture reference or other online ephemera could increase appeal with consumers. Chili's is also letting visitors mark their calendars on the site to remind them about the event.
KFC recently deployed a similar strategy. Last week, it unveiled a capsule collection of fried chicken-themed streetwear created in collaboration with Japanese fashion designer Nigo, best known for leading the brands A Bathing Ape and Human Made. KFC worked with Hypebeast's Hypemaker studio on the effort, which included a pop-up shop in Manhattan and limited availability at HBX.com.
While this is the first time Chili's has dabbled in the pop-up online shopping space, the brand has created merchandise before. For the British royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May, it debuted a line of fascinator hats and cufflinks to celebrate. The items featured recreations of menu items, like Texas Sized Ribs and Sizzling Fajitas, but were not available for purchase until now.
Chili's has been recognized by the branding firm Vivaldi in the past for its "social currency," which measures a brand's ability to tap into consumers' lives in the digital and social media age. By linking its new merchandise to cultural moments and fans' social media interactions, it can continue to align with that strategy.