Fast-Food Wars

26 Mar

For as long as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s have been in business, they have been ranked one, two, and three in the nation’s fast-food economy. However, a recent study shows that this time-honored hierarchy is no more.

Despite having 1,300 fewer stores than fast-food giant, Burger King, Wendy’s finished this past year with more revenue, thereby catapulting it into second place. The reason behind this sudden change is quite simple, according to Darren Tristano, Executive Vice President of Technomic, the research firm that conducted this study. While Burger King spent the past several years focusing on its ad campaigns, Wendy’s decided to focus on improving the quality of its food. The results show that Wendy’s business strategy was the better one.

The main fault of Burger King’s ad campaigns was the demographic it chose to target: young males, who were hit hard as a whole by the recession. Burger King’s ad campaigns not only failed to attract its target demographic thanks to the recession, but actively excluded other demographics due to an overly narrow focus. In addition, while churning out these poorly focused advertisements, Burger King was neglecting its menu, choosing instead to copy McDonald’s rather than come up with original fare.

Wendy’s, on the other hand, chose to strengthen its core image and brand. Touting its use of fresh ingredients, Wendy’s redesigned its square, processed-looking patties into a thicker, more natural shape that was reminiscent of better-burger chains such a Five Guys. Wendy’s also introduced a new breakfast menu that featured freshly cracked eggs rather than powder eggs or mix eggs. Both of these strategies appealed to consumers as they resonated with freshness and better health.

As evidenced by this particular case, good marketing begins with a good product. While McDonald’s and Wendy’s focused on communicating the quality of its products to consumers, Burger King believed that its humorous ads would make up for its lackluster menu. But when it comes down to business consumers truly care about the quality of the product that they’re buying.

by Jessica Hassett



One Response to “Fast-Food Wars”

  1. Connie Chen March 27, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Interesting point. I have never been to a Wendy’s and have only eaten at Burger King once, but I agree that the brand images of the two restaurants are different, just from seeing commercials. Wendy’s focuses on close-ups of the food and seems to have a more down-home feel than Burger King, whereas I feel Burger King tries to be too similar to McDonald’s when it should instead differentiate.

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