Sandwiches in the News: Wendy’s tops Burger King
April 3, 2012
According to research firm Technomic, Wendy’s has dethroned Burger King as the world’s number two fast food chain. While Wendy’s narrowly edged out BK in terms of annual sales, both were still far behind McDonald’s, with an enormous $34.2 billion in sales.
There’s a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on, invoking everything from mascots to health food trends. Some of it’s on point, and some of it (in my opinion) is way off. To me, I think this is an indicator of Wendy’s hard work at managing their image as a higher quality, healthier alternative to McDonald’s. They’re not going after Burger King or anyone else specifically, they’re just presenting themselves as a niche market, a drive-thru burger place with leaf lettuce and fresh(er) tomatoes. McDonald’s is always going to be on top, because they’ve found the ideal point of convergence between price and quality, but Wendy’s can pick up the more discerning crowd, which lacks in volume but (hopefully) is loyal.
Remember, I’m not saying Wendy’s actually is a healthier, higher-quality alternative. I don’t have any nutritional values in front of me, but it feels like if you’re health-conscious, any place with a drive-thru probably isn’t the best bet. But through their advertising campaigns, Wendy’s has managed to project an air of quality, which seems to have caught on. People know they can go there and pick up a salad instead of a burger in they so choose. For their part, Burger King seems to be in a bit of a tailspin. They’ve been trying a couple of different brand concepts and menu items, but nothing so far seems to have caught on. They’ve relied on being a household name for too long, and now they’re going to have to work to stay in the game.
The thing to keep in mind about this is that when chain restaurants compete, you win. Prices drop, and franchises begin offering more creative, bold options in an effort to redefine their brand. As long as Burger King puts in work and doesn’t thrash around, we should be in for some interesting sandwiches over the next year or so.