Creating a new mix of fun
to drive frequency.

With a unique mix of games, prizes and a food/bar offering, Dave & Buster’s had “something for everyone.” Yet the 30-year-old organization had lost relevance and momentum. Recognizing that a change was needed, Dave & Buster’s engaged Jackman. Together, we developed a compelling new brand purpose and brought it to life across every customer touchpoint, turning Dave & Buster’s into a stock market superstar and setting the stage for a successful IPO.

Research & Insights

Through data mining and analytics, we discovered that while the Dave & Buster’s brand was perceived positively among a small group of core customers, it was losing relevance more broadly, particularly among Millennials. However, insights also revealed new opportunities to entice these customers to visit with an improved experience and brand new offerings such as sports viewing.

Management Consulting

Although building new locations was identified as a lever of growth, business performance at the time limited the number of locations available. Dave & Buster’s and Jackman collaborated on strategies for growth, including format refinement, pilot renovations, new offerings (such as D&B Sports) and general enhancements to lift performance at both new and renovated locations.

We uncovered opportunities to improve the experience and broaden occasions for play together young adults (read: Millennials).

Brand Strategy & Design

The brand was rallied around the mantra, “First Choice for Frequent Fun,” delivering more reasons to visit, including D&B Sports, a branded in-store destination created as part of the reinvention, and became a platform to connect more often with Millennials. A new graphic identity was created to embody the brand’s new spirit, and the story of the legendary founders was woven into the refreshed brand experience.

Store Design

Jackman reconceptualized the entire environmental experience, optimizing the space to enhance multiple-use visits and maximize spend per visit. In flagship locations, we created four distinct “worlds”: Eat at Buster’s, Dave’s Arcade, Game Bar and D&B Sports, a stadium-like environment with step seating and giant screens.


In the past, vendors focused on large-format arcade games instead of capitalizing on what was happening in the broader marketplace of consoles and smartphones. With a new strategic approach of the “Latest & Greatest Games,” the Dave & Buster’s team began securing and adapting blockbuster apps to the arcade experience. As an example, Dave & Buster’s became the first destination to bring Fruit Ninja and Kung Fu Panda from app to arcade.

The Results

Within three years of the reinvention (2011–2014), comp sales grew from +1.9% to +6%, leading to their current level of +10%, with a two-year stack of +20%. Customer satisfaction scores were steadily improved, and in 2013, Dave & Buster’s was named Most Improved Food Brand in a global brand health survey. The company successfully went public in 2014, with its stock price doubling within days of the IPO.

Dave & Buster's has come through with four consecutive years of positive comps. Its initial forecast for the new year calls for it to stretch that streak to five years.

Rick Aristotle Munarriz | DailyFinance 2015

Is now your time to reinvent?

Our reinvention of Dave & Buster's turned the 30-year-old business into a stock market superstar. For more on our work with the private equity-owned business and about the Reinvention model, please send us a message.



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