Wendy’s brand: Breakfast

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Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

10 February 2020

What the Wendys brand must do to win breakfast

As McDonalds CEO Chris Kempczinski said during a recent conference call with analysts, “Breakfast is the only daypart in the industry that’s seeing traffic growth.” So no wonder the Wendys brand is finally entering the fast food breakfast wars.

Fast food is undergoing a bit of sea change as sales during lunch and dinner stagnate. There are just too many options, especially with the infiltration of app-based delivery brands like GrubHub and DoorDash that open up all kinds of options for consumers.

Fast food brands, therefore, only see growth during breakfast as consumers turn to on-the-go options instead of making breakfast at home. The days of eating a bowl of cereal are gone.

Wendys brandThe Wendys brand would seem a strange fit into the breakfast daypart. Its brand, much like Burger King, has mostly meant hamburger. “Old fashioned hamburgers” was a long-term slogan. But, unlike BK, the Wendys name doesn’t completely tie it down. So there is opportunity.

I mean, Taco Bell (!) serves breakfast.

How the Wendys brand plays this out will tell the tale. Its breakfast starts March 2, and it’s waging an aggressive Twitter campaign. One that’s often challenging its competitors, telling McDonalds to come “roast us.”

“Wendys says that failed because those items took too long to make. Maybe so, but it was really a failure of brand permission. The Wendys brand did little to nothing to tell consumers why the brand was a good fit for breakfast.”

The Wendys brand must mean more than table stakes to succeed

While I like that aggressiveness (brands should do it more often), its other tactics so far are just run of the mill. It’s already talking about its fresh ingredients, a table stake in the category. It says it’ll have hand-cracked eggs, which is different than some of its competitors. But is it enough? The “fresh” angle is overplayed among fast food brands.

Also, I suspect the Wendys brand also thinks it can out-menu the competition. Its most notable public release so far is unveiling a menu with the Breakfast Baconator, Frosty-ccino and Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit.

Hey, maybe they’re tasty items. But trying to out-menu more famous items at McDonalds or even biscuits at regional shops like Bojangles and Chick-fil-A is a losing effort.

The Wendys brand should understand this. It attempted breakfast once before. Back in the mid-80s it tried breakfast, featuring omelets, French toast and toasted sandwiches.

Wendys says that failed because those items took too long to make. Maybe so, but it was really a failure of brand permission. The Wendys brand did little to nothing to tell consumers why the brand was a good fit for breakfast.

As we near the rollout, let’s see if Wendys has learned anything from the past failure. My guess is it will just look to the competitors, and copy them.

See more posts in the following related categories: Fast Food branding

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