Friday, May 18, 2012

Wendy’s, Burger King, Red Robin vs. Smashburger, Five Guys could they all end up like Herfy’s?

“Life can be understood by looking backward, but must be lived by looking forward.”  Is a quote by Kierkegaar that rings true even today! 

The United States burger sector is simply over crowded. Legacy operators that that utilize copycat menu ideation have looked back into their marketing tool kit one too many times. Recycling your competitor’s products works only for a very short period of time, I don’t suggest it.   Wendy’s “larger burger” program did for it, what it did for Burger King, a little help for a little while.  When Wendy’s was a new to the marketplace they had products with differentiation (frosty) as an example today it’s just follow the leader.

When CEO’s reach into their tool kit and start utilizing justification why sales are down, pointing the finger at competitor’s unfair pricing or promotions the problem is simply continuing.  The first thing we know from looking backward is they don’t know how to fix the problem and are going to stay in a “funk” for some time.

The hamburger sector is growing.  Winners are building stores, sales and profits.  The others are watching consumer migrate too consumer relevant brands.  McDonalds is consumer relevant.  Look at its industry leading new product positioning. Each Television Ad McDonalds runs has a clear objective, definable and understood by consumers. Others in the marketplace utilize professional prerogative creating spots that do not present definable brand relevant information.  Ever wonder why?  So do we!

When retooling marketing messaging misses the mark, the message was not definable or understood by the consumer.  It is that simple. That in most cases is what happens when tactics’ replace strategy.  Many of the legacy burger companies promote from within and have outstanding tactical implementing employees. That is not enough to replace a vertically integrated brand strategy.

Look back at Herfy’s, once a thriving brand that allowed its brand too diminish simply by following the leaders and not once trying to taking the lead. Once a thriving brand with growing global footprint now simply good in parts of the world and an industry lager in the rest.  In Saudi Arabia Herfy’s is very strong, in Korea focused, and in the United States a clear lager at best.

Cultivating restaurant and retail foodservice success is important.  Brands are dynamic not static, they develop and grow with the consumer.  Identifying distinctive differentiated programs, positioning and consumable’s by day part that reflect the brand, industry trends, for the consumer is required.  Then they must be unique too be sustainable.  Success does leave clues, legacy burger companies must refocus not retool or they will continue to see eroding market share, profits and franchisees.

Steven Johnson is Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions, with extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking. Johnson, or

1 comment:

  1. Who knew Herfy's was still around. What a shame to see it in such disaray. What burger chain will fall next?