Fast food branding

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Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

5 October 2020

Fast food branding: It’s the only way to win

Fast food branding is an interesting beast. The category is extremely competitive. Too many brands think changing their menus is the key to winning. And they will try anything to increase market share.

Burger King remains one of the most confused brands in the industry. It changes its menu like you and I change clothes. With little really sticking. (With one exception.)

fast food brandingYet, a few tactical exercises are helping. Its Whopper detour campaign, using geofencing for those going to market leader McDonalds, won the Grand Effie award. And, according to BK, created $15 million in incremental value and an 37:1 ROI.

Not bad, right? But like most fast food branding, that success may be short lived. QSR magazine unveiled its top 50 report in August. And Burger King is still holding at fifth place, second in burgers to McDonalds.

Even though its introduction of the Impossible Whopper is helping sales grow, that and the geofencing don’t guarantee long-term success.

“Fast food branding rewards only those with meaningful brands. Chick-fil-A has represented the best brand in the industry for years. McDonalds’ brand means fun. Even Taco Bell has tightened up its meaning.”

Fast food branding is winning the category

The best way to find who’s doing well is examining year-to-year sales per store. It’s there where you see who in fast food branding are succeeding. And which ones are vulnerable.

The best remains Chick-fil-A, with more than $4 million in sales for each unit. Then comes those in the $2-$3 million range, like McDonalds, Panera Bread (surprising to me) and Chiptole (who’s bounced back from its own issues).

Meanwhile, Burger King’s per-store sales lag behind Chick-fil-A, McDonalds, Taco Bell and Wendy’s. BK’s main competitors.

Why? It’s simple really. Fast food branding rewards only those with meaningful brands. Chick-fil-A has represented the best brand in the industry for years. McDonalds’ brand means fun. Even Taco Bell has tightened up its meaning.

My point is that you can utilize all the tricks in the marketing book, even to a positive effect. But what your brand means to those currently not choosing you is what gains you market share.

Fast food branding is one of our bailiwicks. Having worked with Biscuitville and others. If you want to know to steal market share for the long term, send me a note.

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