Looking at more than the menu
Burger King recently marked the end of its first year as a private company after being acquired by 3G Capital Management in October 2010.
Over the past year, the chain has been tweaking its menu, with the addition of the premium Chef’s Choice burger line, the addition of soft-serve ice cream and desserts and upgrading core items, including the chain’s French fries and kids' meals.
The menu upgrades are part of a four-tier business strategy to improve sales in North America that included an ongoing remodel plan to bring restaurants up to date with a new look, a new marketing plan that this year will include a big advertising push, as well as a focus on operations and training.
Wiborg said Burger King expects to have about half of its U.S. locations remodeled according to its new reimaging campaign within three years.
At the end of December, about 230 locations were remodeled, and roughly 1,017 franchise locations were signed up to remodel within 12 to 18 months. Burger King’s largest franchisee Carrols Restaurant Group also has committed to remodeling 450 locations, including those acquired from the franchisor in a deal announced last week.
Meanwhile, the menu rollout Monday included other changes to Burger King restaurants, Wiborg said. All locations in the United States now have digital menu boards inside, as well as new-look menu boards in drive-thrus. Uniforms have also been changed, and food is presented in redesigned packaging, from the boxes burgers are served in to new cold cups and bags.
Similar changes have also been seen at other quick-service chains as more premium fast-casual burger brands, such as Five Guys and Smashburger, grow and threaten to steal market share.
Wiborg said other restaurant chains — not just burger players — are broadening their appeal to a wider audience, and Burger King is following suit.
He noted moves like Starbucks adding beer and wine to some stores, as well as Subway’s move into thedaypart.
“Burger King is not just burgers,” he said. “We have America’s favorite burger in the Whopper, but you see lines expanding.
“What consumers are saying is they want a broader target, and that’s what we’re doing at Burger King,” he added.