Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
1 April 2019
Who does the vegetarian Impossible Whopper appeal to?
Uh oh. Here we go again. In one of the most predictable monthly occurrences, it seems, Burger King is adding another menu item. Let’s hear it for the Impossible Whopper.
At first glance, this represents another desperate attempt by the fast food chain to out-menu the competition. Nobody, and I mean nobody, changes its menu more than Burger King. And it wonders why its brand loses traction.
Digging deeper, the Impossible Whopper represents a new trend in fast food. Vegetarian foods. The Impossible Whopper is made with plant-based patties from Impossible Foods. The chain is testing the burgers in nearly 60 locations in and around St. Louis, with a potential national rollout.
This follows the example of Taco Bell, which is testing a vegetarian menu board right now in select locations. There’s sure to be more as the perception is that the number of Americans who identify themselves as vegetarian is rising.
In truth, the number has remained pretty steady, according to a recent Gallop poll. About 5% of Americans say they are vegetarians, which is about the same number in 2012.
“I also think about this. I am a vegetarian. And there’s no way in hell I’m going to Burger King for the Impossible Whopper. So who is Burger King appealing to?”
The Impossible Whopper will have little impact
So, if the number of vegetarians is staying relatively the same, why are fast food chains trotting out something like the Impossible Whopper?
Fast food usage has been declining in recent years as consumers search for healthier and more local options. Those chains are trying to appease that faction with limited success.
Certainly, brands must adapt to market changes. But, as is too often the case with Burger King, their brands don’t change along with them.
The fast food brands should take notice that the fast-riser among chains is Chick-fil-A, which owns the strongest brand in the market. In just the chicken fast food category, its market share rose from 35.1% to 37.1% from 2017 to 2018.
It’s certainly not trotting its own Impossible Whopper because it wouldn’t fit its brand. And I would say it doesn’t fit the Burger King brand either except I don’t even know what the Burger King brands means anymore.
I also think about this. I am a vegetarian. And there’s no way in hell I’m going to Burger King for the Impossible Whopper. So who is Burger King appealing to?
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