Clients & Case Studies

Studio Movie Grill Uses Analytics, “Conscious Capitalism” to Select New Locations

Studio Movie Grill Uses Analytics, “Conscious Capitalism” to Select New Locations

Studio Movie Grill has grown dramatically by following an unconventional idea. Founder and Owner Brian Schultz calls it “conscious capitalism.”

“Almost all the locations that we go to, there’s something that’s needed in the community,” Schultz said. “In some areas, it might be literacy, or other areas it might be employment or violence-oriented things. Our focus is going to a place where we can make a difference.”

The strategy has helped the company – a leader in in-theater dining – to grow from two locations to more than 30 across the country by the end of 2017.  More surprisingly, the company has done so in places like Upper Darby outside Philadelphia and the Chatham neighborhood in Chicago.

“Hardly top 10 retail locations,” Schultz pointed out with a smile.

Feel Good vs. Foolish

A strategy like Schultz’s poses a unique set of challenges when choosing new locations. Because they are locating in areas where making a strong business case is more difficult, Schultz works closely with eSite Analytics to map out the very best locations within conventionally “sub-prime” locations.

And because the demographics in such locations are often transient, e-Site and Schultz take care to map things out in advance. Schultz uses eSite to make sure he is building out where business gets done—in areas that are accessible and visible—to reduce the impediments to success.

A good example might be a cultural center that generates heavy traffic on holidays that might make it difficult for people to get to the theater or other characteristics that are unique—and frequently overlooked—in certain parts of town.

“It feels good to build a business that makes a difference. Without eSite technology, however, I’d be choosing purely by instinct, not intellect, and that’s just plain foolish,” said Schultz.

Location. Location. Elation.

Schultz’s “head and heart” approach to choosing sites has resulted in more than a few home runs and the Upper Darby theater is a prime example.

Upper Darby had been plagued by high employment and sluggish economic development, until Studio Movie Grill moved in. Then the magic happened.

“Not too long after Studio Movie Grill came in, H&M, Gap and other chain stores started coming in and it really turned this whole neighborhood around,” said Schultz. “I am just so proud of our success there. We’re taking that risk and believing in people, in these communities when a lot of other companies have really kind of forgotten about them.”

Can You Plan a Sequel?

Schutz’s track record of success in overlooked communities is the kind of thing that Hollywood could appreciate. He seems to have a knack for creating “sleepers” that make it big time and again.

Just because Studio Movie Grill has built a number of “sequels,” however, the real question is whether community need can actually be considered a viable, and, more importantly, profitable consideration for other businesses.

“That is an interesting question,” said eSite Analytics President Charles Wetzel. “I would expand it to incorporate the broader issue of neighborhood gentrification. I find it ironic that the hottest place for a urban professional to live these days might have been a Feed Storage Facility only a few years back.”

The key to picking winning locations, said Wetzel, is to marry a clear corporate vision with the kind of dynamic planning provided by eSite and its data-driven solutions. “The eSite platform allows companies to append demographics to psychographic profiles of customers and more,” said Wetzel.

“So, for example, if you had a business that was deeply engaged in community outreach, we could work with you to find like-minded concentrations of concerned citizens with the means to make a difference,” said Wetzel. “This goes way beyond pinning locations on a map or simply following where the hipsters live,” he added.

Knocking Down the Silos

Another challenge that eSite helps clients address is to knock down data silos within the organization. A real estate team, for example, may not be aware of the rich data kept within the marketing department – or the customer loyalty team may not be connected as closely as they could with the customer acquisition team. The best solution to building the bridges? Data.

“eSite helps to build the connective tissue within our clients and their data organizations,” said Wetzel. “We can leverage data from multiple sources to assist with topics ranging from customer acquisition and loyalty marketing to real estate development and site selection. The result is that we help ensure that new locations are set up for success through trade area definition – and that helps bring a variety of teams together.”

Conclusion: From Blip to Hip.

No business, not even Studio Movie Grill, is going to have a hit with every new location. Yet its undeniable that when a Studio Movie Grill moves in to a neighborhood, fans will follow.

Or to put it another way, an area that might have been a blip on the map to a broader demographics suddenly becomes a hip new spot for that same demographic to shop, entertain and live. At the very least, it attracts the attention of movers and shakers.

For example, once Studio Movie Grill opened in Chatham on the Southside of Chicago, Chance the Rapper, a Southside native, bought out a screening of the recent movie “Get Out” for nearby residents to enjoy for free.

Which was a cool move. By any analysis.

eSite AnalyticsStudio Movie Grill Uses Analytics, “Conscious Capitalism” to Select New Locations
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Getting Location Down to a Science

Getting Location Down to a Science

How The Shopping Center Group leverages mobile data to take site selection strategies to a new level

The Shopping Center Group (TSCG) has a saying when it comes to retail site selection: If you are off by an inch, you are off by a mile. With a rapidly expanding list of retail clients needing to make smart location decisions, TCSG knows there is zero room for error.

With the bar set this high, TSCG Director of Innovation and Technology, Gregg Katz, spoke to the eSite Analytics blog about the daily challenges and rewards of his job.

Success in Motion

Gregg Katz, TCSG Director of Innovation and Technology

Gregg Katz, The Shopping Center Group

As a leading retail real estate advisory firm, TSCG leverages eSite Analytics to evaluate, plan and execute location strategies—with motion data provided by the INRIX database. The process, Katz emphasizes, is totally different from the “pin and map” approaches of the past.

There is no room for error in our business when it comes to choosing a retail site,” says Katz. “Innovative planning gives our clients an edge. To paraphrase Wayne Gretzky, we anticipate not just where customers are now, but also where they are going to be.

To accomplish this goal, Katz appends motion data from INRIX to clients’ existing retail locations to analyze all variables—from competitors to customers—with easily visualized maps. He then goes a step further to help retail clients where the best customers are now and where they will live and shop in the future.

“We’re talking a bird’s-eye and street-level view of customer behavior in the same glance. The stuff you can’t see on a simple map,” says Katz.

The benefits of eSite Analytics mapping technology

The benefits of eSite Analytics mapping technology

The Meaning Behind Motion

Katz is quick to point out that motion data and eSite Analytics’ technology differs in another key way from past approaches. “Data capture and demographic information today must be dynamic, not static,” says Katz.

Katz elaborated upon the difference: “Our current platform allows us to capture raw demographics and then go deeper to actually create psychographic profiles of customers and more. Drawing concentric circles on a map then ‘pinning’ locations is static. It cannot tell you the why, where or how of customer motion.”

eSite Analytics helps Katz test and validate or disprove certain fixed assumptions that people or even brokers might have about a location, such as “People will never cross that highway to shop in a different location.” By providing evidence-insights, eSite Analytics allows TSCG to put science behind such assumptions.

Mapping with demographic detail and personas for site location selection

Mapping with demographic detail and personas

Clients at the Center

Katz has centralized an enviable trove of demographic, psychographic and motion data at The Shopping Center Group. From this nerve center, Katz also uses eSite Analytics tools to provide more than 900 internal and external clients with data at their fingertips. “All to help them represent our clients as accurately as possible,” says Katz.

Thanks to the efforts of Katz and others, TSCG taps a variety of tools and data to augment a project. These include:

  1. Visually-depicted products (maps and aerials) or reports
  2. Site characteristics
    1. Traffic counts
    2. Consumer expenditure studies
    3. Market optimization analyses
    4. Market characteristics
      1. Competition studies
      2. Retailer void analyses
      3. Demographic Characteristics
        1. Demographics—Based on Radii, trade area or drive time
        2. Consumer lifestyle segmentation (Psychographics)
        3. Thematic shading
        4. Density shadings
        5. And much more

Completing the “Location Triangle”

Finally, while technology can do great things, it is also possible to drown a customer in data. TSCG approaches eSite Analytics and INRIX data from a “triangular” perspective to assure their insights remain level-headed.

Demographics tell us where the customers are. Psychographics give us a sense of what they think. Motion data tells us how they move around and spend their days, weeks and month,” says Katz. “The ‘big picture’ for our clients, then, is really a triangle, with each point informing and balancing out the other.

Put another way, using eSite Analytics assures that TSCG clients remain aligned with customer business objectives now and in the future.

eSite AnalyticsGetting Location Down to a Science
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Duluth Trading Partners with eSite Analytics to Identify Expansion Opportunities

Duluth Trading Partners with eSite Analytics to Identify Expansion Opportunities

Specialty Clothing Retailer Experiencing “Milestone Year”

Charleston, SC (May, 2016)Duluth Trading, the clothing retailer of inventive and functional workwear, is entering a period of expansion with assistance from analytics partner eSite Analytics.

In leveraging TrailBlazer™, eSite Analytics’ 360° retail analytics tool, the Wisconsin-headquartered retailer is able to identify the sites and marketing opportunities that will best support its customer base and their communities.

“Spatial analysis is the key to strategic store growth, and we’re excited to assist Duluth Trading with the granular level of customer insights needed to expand profitably,” said eSite Analytics President Charles Wetzel.

Duluth Trading is currently preparing to open two new stores and is analyzing dozens of markets to identify those with the strongest network potential for the brand based on trade area analysis, customer segmentation and proprietary retail modeling.

eSite Analytics will continue to assist the company as it carefully analyzes additional markets opportunities.

For more information on Duluth Trading’s current growth and excitement building around the company’s expansion plans, check out these recent media stories:


About eSite Analytics
eSite Analytics has been providing location-based spatial analytics insights to consumer brands since 1997. The first retail analytics firm to leverage GPS trip data for marketing and site selections, our innovative tools and expert analysis have guided the growth many of America’s most recognized retailers and restaurants.

eSite AnalyticsDuluth Trading Partners with eSite Analytics to Identify Expansion Opportunities
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How Spatial Data Turns Good Retail Ideas into Growing Brands

How Spatial Data Turns Good Retail Ideas into Growing Brands

It’s 5:15 p.m. on a Tuesday when Sally Owens is driving seven-year-old Pete home from soccer practice. He’s hungry, she needs to grab a new phone charger and dad’s at home waiting on a box of hinges to fix the kitchen cabinets.

She takes a right at Conner Street and pops into a big-box retailer for the charger. A few doors down is the hardware store, so mother and son step inside and ask a sales associate to help them find the hinges. By 5:45 p.m. they’re in line at the nextdoor mediterranean restaurant for a takeout meal. A short while later, the Owens’ SUV pulls into the driveway brimming with plastic bags. Everything the family needed was neatly packed into one quick-and-easy shopping trip conveniently located on the way home from soccer.

Coincidence? Not by a long shot. The brands that benefited from Sally’s shopping excursion knew exactly what she needed and where she’d be when she went to buy it. They’ve analyzed countless pockets of their very best customers to determine who those shoppers are, where they travel, what marketing they respond to and which locations best meet their day-to-day needs.

This is precisely the kind of scenario that results from using spatial data to turn a good a retail idea into a growing brand.

Why analyze spatial data?

Spatial data is the key to getting it right every time. This location-based data—everything from mailing addresses and proximities to trade areas and territories—can be used to unlock deep insights about your company, customers and competitors.

Analysis of spatial data is what lets you see who’s driving where (and when), how one location impacts another and which pockets of customers hold the most promise for your brand. Without this highly detailed information on where customers live, work, drive, shop, recreate and more, your company may never reach the full potential of its data.

To better understand the impacts of spatial analysis, let’s look at a recent example.

Real-Life Example of Spatial Data Analysis

In the early 1990’s, a young entrepreneur named Brian Schultz opened a small movie-theater-restaurant. It was like most dining-style theaters at the time, where moviegoers could dine on basic bar food and beer while watching second-run motion pictures on a single screen. Then Schultz had an idea:

Why not expand to an upscale area, use a bigger building and convince Hollywood studios to provide first-run films?

It was a truly original idea. But without spatial data to prove demand for the concept, it took a long while to gain momentum and get support. Still, Schultz persisted. After months of pitches and pavement pounding, Studio Movie Grill landed its first-ever first-run movie screening—which ended up being the top gross in all of Dallas, Texas.

By 2012, Hollywood studios were lined up to get on Studio Movie Grill’s scheduled. New releases were being served up alongside freshly-made meals, and local customers were coming in droves.

Around this time the company was facing another huge challenge:

How to expand the concept beyond Texas.

The spatial data difference

The potential for Studio Movie Grill to grow on a national scale was big—but how big was anyone’s guess. Which markets should the brand enter first? Which areas should be avoided? And how do decision-makers reduce the risk of choosing a wrong location?

With many Americans trading in the traditional theater experience for at-home streaming and HDTVs, answering these questions was crucial. So Studio Movie Grill decided to follow a multi-tiered approach to growth. It looked something like this:

  1. Identify the segments of your best customers: who they are, where they live and how they buy
  2. Pinpoint pockets of those best customers to identify ideal trip and traffic trade areas
  3. Determine where there’s enough demand to support the concept and decide how many locations could potentially thrive in markets across America
  4. Divide, corner and conquer the niche

In October 2015, when Studio Movie Grill opened its first location in Simi Valley, CA, reporter Scott Mendelson had this to say about the concept in a Forbes review:

“Would I go to this theater again? Absolutely, and not just because it’s five minutes closer to my house than the Cinepolis…the Regal in Simi Valley…and the Muvico in Thousand Oaks. This goes along with my efforts to try to experience a variety of theatrical movie going options.”

It’s precisely the kind of customer response that comes from data-driven decisions. If you want to turn a great idea into a growing brand, start by analyzing your spatial data.

P.S. TrailBlazer™, eSite Analytics 360° retail analytics tools, is capable of handling this exact spatial analysis process. Learn more here. (Or request a demo.)

eSite AnalyticsHow Spatial Data Turns Good Retail Ideas into Growing Brands
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