With burger joints eager to stay current and appeal to varying tastes, guests are seeing a full range of innovative menu items. Some of these offerings contain no meat at all, some feature new ingredients like CBD, and others are being called something other than burgers. As the summer grilling season heats up, let’s explore how three restaurant chains are improving their marketing strategy and reaching new customers by introducing a fresh take on a classic meal.
Burger King, one of the largest burger chains in America, recently announced that all of its locations will be offering the Impossible Whopper by the end of 2019. The name is inspired by the burger’s supplier, Impossible Foods, which is a leading provider of plant-based substitutes for meat. The burger looks and tastes just like the real thing, and stores carrying the Impossible Whopper have seen an increase in foot traffic. Meanwhile, independent and smaller restaurants are experiencing similar demand for plant-based alternatives, but Impossible Foods doesn’t have the supply to meet the needs of large chains and small chains alike. This situation has given rise to direct competitors like Beyond Meat, which is starting to gain much more recognition in the market after reaching agreements with Hooters and Tim Hortons.
Carl’s Jr. is a chain that’s taking a more radical approach to keeping up with the latest food trends. On April 20th, a day that has become associated with cannabis, it tested a CBD burger. The Rocky Mountain High Burger has a typical patty but it’s topped with CBD-infused sauce. Although popular for personal consumption, food and beverages that contain CBD exist in a gray area. The FDA conducted its first hearing on the use of CBD in restaurants this year and will continue to explore all of the pros and cons before either maintaining its illegality or overturning the current regulations.
While Burger King and Carl’s Jr. are adapting the traditional burger to cater to a more health-conscious or adventurous consumer base, IHOP is focusing on creative marketing. After this well-known breakfast chain decided to promote burgers last summer to drive lunch and dinner traffic, it received backlash from those who felt that a pancake place should stick to what it does best. In response, IHOP has begun marketing its burgers as just another category of pancakes. I mean, they’re the same shape, right? IHOP is also keeping a list of social media users who tweeted negative sentiments during last year’s promotion. The only way to get off this “Bancake List” is to tweet something positive about the brand.
In this season of increased burger consumption, you should give some thought to the innovations that are impacting the food industry and how restaurant chains are responding to new consumer preferences. For more information, check out our on-demand webinar, “Grilling Up Plant-Based Proteins on Your Menu,” and consult our data brief for tips on deciding what your menu should feature next.