Will Burger King's healthier menu spark sales?
The house that Whopper built shakes things up by offering smoothies and salads alongside its artery-clogging burgers and fries
Burger King is rolling out 10 new dishes — the largest expansion of its menu since the venerable burger chain first opened its doors in 1954. The additions include smoothies, snack wraps, and salads, and are notable for being much healthier than Burger King's usual calorie-bomb fare.
The shake up is part of a broader campaign to resuscitate the company, which last year fell to the number-three slot in the burger chain hierarchy, behind McDonald's (MCD) and Wendy's (WEN). The overhaul will include a makeover of restaurants that have gone to seed, and a new advertising blitz featuring Jay Leno, David Beckham, Mary J. Blige, and other celebrities (watch one of the ads here).
Can Burger King reclaim its crown?
This is too little, too late: "Burger King is trying to revive its ailing empire with a rival's recipe for success," says Candice Choi at The Associated Press. McDonald's introduced salads, wraps, coffee drinks, chicken strips, and smoothies long ago, in a largely triumphant plan to woo the types of health-conscious eaters that were flocking to Subway. While the menu additions are proven winners, Burger King "is already late to the party" and will look all the worse for following a "me too" strategy.
But BK had to try something: Burger King finally realized that it could no longer cater "almost exclusively" to young men who love burgers and fries, says E.J. Schultz at Advertising Age. That "single-minded focus" was the hallmark of its marketing campaign of yore, which featured "a creepy King character lurking in unexpected places." The new menu, as well as the "host of expensive celebrities" involved in its launch, at least tries to lure demographics that have long eluded the chain.
And it might be Burger King's last chance: "This may be a make-or-break moment" for Burger King, says Bruce Horovitz at USA Today. McDonald's is "blowing its doors off," and if BK wants to "pull itself out of the swamp," its top priority must be reversing the image of its food as "anything but better-for-you." This is a good start. But if it fails...
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Consumers are very status conscious in Asia, Africa and other emerging-market areas. This is especially true in China.
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