Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
1 February 2018
Wendys hamburgers directly take on McDonalds
Normally, I praise brands directly taking on other brands. The only way to steal market share is to position yourself directly against the competition. So you notice when Wendys hamburgers chastise market leader McDonalds in an upcoming Super Bowl ad.
The spot names McDonalds and shows the logo, sporting McDonalds online statement that “our beef is flash frozen to seal in flavor.” The spot responds by saying Wendys hamburgers “only use fresh, never frozen beef.”
“Wendys can steal market share by having a brand that is emotionally positioned against McDonalds. It’s that emotional quotient that Wendys misses.”
Wendys feels its oats (or beef) as it remains in second place ahead of Burger King in the fast food burger market. For years, BK held that spot. But it’s becoming one of the industry’s lost brands, solely dependent on location and endless menu changes.
Wendys, holding a slight edge over BK, now focuses on the market leader, McDonalds. As it should.
But here’s something to consider. Do McDonalds customers, the ones Wendys hamburgers are trying to attract, care that McDonalds burgers are frozen? By reporting that fact to this target audience, does Wendys create preference?
Wendys hamburgers should not be the reason to choose Wendys
Fresh burgers play a part in the Wendys brand, so the campaign does reward its current customers for eating Wendys hamburgers. But it doesn’t steal market share because McDonalds eaters already suspect its hamburgers are frozen.
And they don’t care. Nobody picks McDonalds because of its fresh ingredients. (Although McDonalds says it will use fresh beef in its Quarter Pounders later this year.)
Wendys can steal market share by having a brand that is emotionally positioned against McDonalds. It’s that emotional quotient that Wendys misses. Fast food rebranding remains on the table for all the chains.
In fact, it’s the smaller burger chains with an emotional hook, like Five Guys or Hardees, that are stealing share.
Directly taking on McDonalds represents the right first step for Wendys. Now it needs its brand to be different and better than, as the spot says, the frozen arches.
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