Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
30 March 2016
Burger King and industry-wide brand problems
The fast food industry is currently undergoing an identity crisis as industry sales are down, mostly attributed to more competition with healthier options.
But the truth is that most of the chains are undergoing a brand crisis. What does McDonalds stand for anymore? Wendys?
No chain is having a more difficult time with its brand than Burger King.
Its response to failing brand preference? Try to out-menu the competition.
Burger King is currently promoting hot dogs and now comes word that it will be offering the Angriest Whopper. The burger will have hot sauce baked into it with onions and jalapenos along with other options.
Burger King isn’t the only one trying to out-menu the competition. As most of you know, McDonalds now offers a limited breakfast menu all day. The market leader has seen sales rise and Burger King had some success with the recent additions of chicken fries.
New menu items help, but don’t address Burger King’s fundamental problem.
New menu items often prompt a spike in sales but they are short-term gains. They don’t address the fundamental problem of brand preference.
If customers are so easy to attract by simple menu additions, then how loyal are they to a brand in the first place? What happens is that you’re constantly having to add and switch out menu items to keep up. It’s like the pizza chains having to go back and forth on price because they have nowhere else to play.
No one tries the out-menu strategy more than Burger King. Do you remember the omelet sandwich? The Burger Shots? Its once touted low-calorie fries that tasted like dirt? The BK Rib Sandwich?
Burger King isn’t the only one that does this kind of thing. All the chains do some version of it and McDonalds isn’t shy about it either by a long shot. It’s the path they have chosen.
Adding menu items by itself isn’t a terrible idea. The point is that Burger King, more than most, has consistently failed to think about its business in terms of brand. To think about its success long term. It does little to nothing to demonstrate who is the Burger King customer and what self-identifications BK has to offer. (Even Sonic, as loathsome as I find them, has the dorks in the car as identifiers.)
So, enjoy the Angriest Whopper, BK. Just know that any rise in sales will be short-lived until you take on your biggest problem: Your brand.
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