Burger King Ups Marketing, Makes Demo Inroads

Burger-King-StorefrontA top Burger King executive said the company’s efforts to use marketing to reach different demographic segments continues to be effective, bringing in more female and older-adult customers. Like many quick-service restaurant businesses, BK has spent considerable dollars over the years trying to reach males ages 18 to 35.
The chain has “historically focused on a very narrow consumer base. A key element of our strategy is to broaden the appeal of our advertising and bring a more diverse customer mix back into our restaurants,” said BK’s North America president Steve Wiborg.
Wiborg said the initiatives to reach women and adults 50+ saw increased results with customer segmentation data in the third quarter, after momentum in the previous one.
BK is also trying to push deeper into social media as a marketing option with its Facebook page reaching nearly 6 million “likes” with no acquisition costs. Wiborg said there is potential for using the platform for new promotional tactics.
At least on one front, BK is sticking with history, plugging its flame-broiled offering as a core ad tactic.
“Our television advertising is increasingly focused on taste, which we think is a key differentiator,” Wiborg said Monday on an earnings call.
In the U.S. and Canada, marketing joins menu, image and operations as a company focus. Comparable sales rose 1.6% in the July-September period.
Even as the flame-broiled Whopper is still a base, as with many competitors, BK has various menu offerings being added. Wraps, smoothies and chicken strips were introduced in the spring, and Wiborg said they are “making meaningful contributions to average restaurant sales without cannibalizing sales of existing products.”
In the second quarter, BK ran some price promotions, such as a soft-serve cone at 50 cents and $1 smoothie.
“Promotions are being used in an increasingly deliberate manner to drive traffic, while also creating ongoing awareness of our new menu platforms,” Wiborg said.
Even with wraps and smoothies, BK now has Cinnabon products available at all its stores, which the executive said has yielded good results, “suggesting a highly incremental product.”

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