In a surprising turn of events, Burger King, once a fast-food giant, has slipped to the third position, trailing behind Wendy’s as the No. 2 fast-food hamburger chain. The parent company, Restaurants Brands International (QSR), is refusing to accept defeat, implementing a series of strategic changes. The company has introduced a revamped menu featuring the BK Royal Crispy Wraps, a move aimed at recapturing market share. Notably, the addition mirrors McDonald’s Snack Wrap, a popular item among McDonald’s enthusiasts. To further strengthen its position, the company has enlisted former Domino’s Chief Executive Patrick Doyle as its executive chairman.
In response to the closure of numerous franchises over the past year, Burger King has launched the ambitious “Reclaim the Flame” campaign, a $400 million investment spanning two years. This comprehensive initiative includes $150 million earmarked for advertising and digital investments, and $250 million for a ‘Royal Reset,’ focusing on restaurant technology, kitchen equipment, building enhancements, and high-quality remodels and relocations. The goal is to modernize the Burger King restaurant portfolio, enhancing both customer experience and franchisee investments.
A unique aspect that has long set Burger King apart from competitors McDonald’s and Wendy’s is its flame-grilling technique. While the latter two cook their burgers on a griddle, Burger King has been flame-grilling since its inception in 1954. Now, the company aims to leverage this advantage further by incorporating flame-grilling into its morning menu.
Testing the waters, Burger King has introduced a new line of breakfast sandwiches called Grill’Wich in select markets. The sandwich features flame-grilled flatbread, offering a distinctive twist to the traditional breakfast options of biscuit or croissant. The Grill’Wich, priced at $3.99 for a single meat option and $4.59 for double meat, is a bold attempt to diversify and attract customers during breakfast hours.
Mixed Results and Future Outlook
Despite these strategic moves, Burger King has experienced a reduction in size over the past year. CEO Josh Kobza acknowledges the decline in the total net restaurant count by 2.8% year-over-year, attributing it to the closure of older and lower-performing establishments. However, he remains optimistic about the future, emphasizing a focus on marketing and menu innovation to drive growth.
Kobza highlights positive outcomes from the third quarter, with digital sales growth exceeding 40% year-over-year and a record digital sales mix of 14%. The introduction of core items like the Whopper and the Royal Crispy Wraps, coupled with operational improvements and heightened customer satisfaction, indicates Burger King’s commitment to regaining its foothold in the competitive fast-food landscape.