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Monday
Sep092019

Burger King

Burger King's well-conceived brand equity emphasizes flame grilling (over an open flame), highlighting its clear difference from griddling. Its humorous, quirky marketing supports a steady stream of hi/lo offers promoting value, premium and fun menu innovation which works well with social & digital channels. Short, funny TV ads feature: compelling food shots; humorous testimonies from actors that look like real customers; use of "King" mascot (with a big-headed mask); and tie-ins with pop culture. Effective digital marketing is marked by BK's use of "trolling" competitors (particularly McDonald's) and "hackvertising" which seeks to hijack a competitors' trending marketing push. Promotional focus on its signature Whopper (i.e. bigger) line along with quality upgrades has helped return this platform to its original flagship menu positioning and an upgraded chicken platform also seeks to leverage BK's flame grilling distinction. The brand's strong value position is reflected by an above-average value promotion mix with value offers available at the bottom, mid-tier and top of the menu. Unique innovation around existing platforms minimizes operational complexity (& SKUs) and a recent launch of the BK Café platform helps position the brand to better address the important breakfast daypart while its plant based Impossible Whopper launch addresses the needs of those that are more health conscious. Customer experience benefits from process/equipment improvements and tighter quality control initiatives and BK posted the fastest drive-thru speed in QSR according to a 3rd party survey. Facilities also benefit from an ongoing rollout of its "BK of Tomorrow" upgrade (similar to MCD's EOTF) which includes exterior digital menu boards, kiosks and double drive-thrus. Having said all this, it is notable that BK has struggled to balance value & premium and a late 2018/early 2019 pivot that de-emphasized value has since been reversed as BK realized that the market remains price sensitive. In conclusion, while Burger King is doing a good job executing around the fundamentals, its challenge remains how to better balance its hi/lo promotional strategy sufficient to drive comp outperformance. 

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