Taco Bell is expanding its breakfast offerings to include a Chicken Biscuit Taco. Consider this news in light of the fact that McDonald’s commands the breakfast meal and that it accounts for about 25% of McDonalds revenues compared to about 6% for Taco Bell.
As I have previously written, the sales at McDonald’s have been in steady decline for some time and I have made a number of comments that its brand is not really reflective of either McDonald’s or the customers it is trying to persuade. But as I think about it, McDonald’s is not the only fast food chain that is suffering from a marked lack of brand.
Fast food brands are confused about one thing – the difference between the business of their businesses and the business of their brands. They are in the business of selling relatively inexpensive food quickly, period. It is the definition of what it means to be a fast food restaurant.
What all of them have confused is that the business of their brands are something else. The business of your brand is not what you do, it’s who your customers are when they use your brand. Sorry to say it, fast food industry, all of you are trying to sell what you do – make fast food.
Therefore, fast food menu items are becoming increasingly ridiculous. Chicken biscuit tacos? A sausage breakfast crunch wrap that exceeds 700 calories? Chicken fingers, extra long BBQ cheeseburgers, monster double omelet biscuit, BBQ pulled pork from Wendy’s?
That list is only a smattering of what the fast food chains are trotting out these days. You even see this confusion with their names. Domino’s is running a campaign in support of changing its name from “Domino’s Pizza” to simply “Domino’s” to, according to the commercials, reflect the fact that it is no longer just pizza. It has pasta, sandwiches and those little fried pieces of chicken topped with pizza toppings.
Anyone with any marketing sense has to look at the mess fast food has created and chuckle. Fast food has made a mockery of itself. The industry, whose sales are down as a whole, is short circuiting itself by putting all of its development into new menu items without considering brand values.
The only brand that seems to get it right is Hardee’s, which went against the grain and actually tried to own the idea of fast food being about high calorie, high fat food – what else would “eat like you mean it” mean? Its brand is reflective of its target audience.
New menu items (or “food innovations” as they are called) do not build a brand. Rather, they dilute brands because they are only about what these companies do.
If you look around you, you see fast food chains trying to out-menu each other. Fast food brands are all about the same and the new fat in a wrapper breakfast item won’t change that.