Insights That Ignite: The MICHELIN Guide

Discover how a single insight can change the course of marketing history. Learn the story behind The MICHELIN Guide.
Insights That Ignite

You may have heard of a MICHELIN-rated restaurant, and if you’re lucky enough you may have even dined at one.

Did you know that Michelin Tires are the originator of the MICHELIN Guide?

That’s right, a tire company is rating the world’s greatest restaurants.

What started as a marketing ploy has turned into one of the most prestigious recognitions of culinary prowess in the world.  So here’s a look at the insight that sparked the MICHELIN Guide.

What is the MICHELIN Guide?

The MICHELIN Guide is a travel guide that rates destinations, hotels, and (most importantly) restaurants.

A star rating between zero and three is awarded to the best restaurants in the world.

  • 1 Star: A very good restaurant in its category.
  • 2 Stars: Excellent cooking, worth a detour.
  • 3 Stars: Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.

A Bib Gourmand may also be awarded to restaurants with quality food at a value price.

The guide rates over 30,000 establishments in over 30 territories across three continents.

How it Started

The MICHELIN Guide was started by brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin when they founded their eponymous tire company in Central France in 1889, as a free travel guide in order to build interest in taking road trips. At the time, there were less than 3,000 cars in France. The guide included useful information like how to change a tire, where to stop for gas, and places to visit like shops or restaurants.

The Insight That Ignited Changed

The insight that sparked a revolution came when Andre Michelin arrived at a tire shop to see his beloved guides being used to prop up a workbench.

Disappointed by the lack of interest in his guides and inspired by the principle that “man only truly respects what he pays for”, a brand new MICHELIN Guide was launched in 1920 and sold for seven francs.

The Michelin brothers started hiring mystery diners to review restaurants anonymously. This led to the restaurant section becoming the guide’s most popular section. The new guide began awarded stars to fine-dining establishments, starting with a single star but increasing its range from zero to three stars, five years later.

Today, earning even a single MICHELIN star (let alone three) is a prestigious achievement awarded to only the best of the best restaurants. And to think, it all started because a tire company was simply trying to sell tires.

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