sip on this

Starbucks, McDonald's Bow to Australia's Coffee Superiority

Posted by Dale Buss on January 5, 2015 03:01 PM

Starbucks Flat White Coffee

Coffee-lovers in America, rejoice. A better brand of brew is coming to you—one that Australians have touted for years as the superior way to enjoy coffee.

Starting on Tuesday, Starbucks will add flat-white coffee to its US menu, which Melburnian Andrew Demaria describes as having "less foam than a latte" and a smaller cup as it introduces a new term to many Americans' coffee lexicon: ristretto, comprising "the first part, about half, of an espresso—the more flavorsome bit of the actual coffee."

Positioned as part of its move to attract more sophisticated coffee-lovers with its high-end Roastery concept, it's also an admission that Australians make a better cup of joe—as Starbucks Australia (which describes its flat white as "slightly stronger than a latte, with steamed milk") would no doubt proudly proclaim.Continue reading...

sip on this

Chick-fil-A Enhances Brand Story with Rollout of Thrive Farmer-Direct Coffee

Posted by Dale Buss on September 5, 2014 10:47 AM

Chick-fil-A's new THRIVE Farmers Coffee menu is what the chain calls "coffee with a story." But the new line of Central American coffees that are supplied directly by farmers actually embodies four stories.

It's a story of the fast-food brand shoring up a glaring weakness in its menu; it's the story of Chick-fil-A making a bold move in the fast-food sustainability derby; and it's the story of a brand taking advantage of the opportunity to divert attention to a kind of sublime value and away from its controversial recent history of taking a hard line on socio-political issues like gay marriage.

And, of course, its fourth story is the one that Chick-fil-A is concentrating on as it rolls out THRIVE coffees to its 1,800 US restaurants, sharing how the partnership is helping actual Central American farmers boost their incomes and their families' wellbeing compared with traditional distribution models for coffee.Continue reading...

chew on this

McDonald's Searches for a New Positive with More Menu Options

Posted by Dale Buss on August 20, 2014 04:41 PM

Everything seems to be sticking to McDonald's these days. There was the food-safety scandal in China last month, and now the chain's very ubiquity has hurt it as the local, franchisee-owned McDonald's at the epicenter of the racial strife in Ferguson, Mo., has become unwitting headquarters for much of the back-and-forth in the building drama there.

Maybe that particular problem for McDonald's will pass quickly, but the beleaguered chain is continuing to battle its long-term challenges, ranging from the junk-food image of its menus to flagging sales growth to still-growing competition.

At least McDonald's is trying some new tactics as CEO Don Thompson tries to pull the world's iconic fast-food chain out of its deepening slump, with moves involving digital leadership, new forms of influencing thought leaders, new menu items and new attempts to leverage the strengths that it does have.Continue reading...

chew on this

McDonald's Continues Global Decline as it Pins Hopes On New Menu Items

Posted by Dale Buss on March 11, 2014 12:58 PM

McDonald's just introduced a Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich and is testing new McCafe Petite Pastries for breakfast. But will either product save the chain's dough?

That's not likely after McDonald's posted the fourth consecutive month of declines in US same-store sales, a 1.4-percent drop in the market that the brand blamed on "challenging industry dynamics" as well as the severe winter weather that has slowed much of the American economy.

Neither is McDonald's offsetting its sluggish US performance with strong overseas sales as it once was capable of doing. Globally, sales declined 0.3 percent at locations open at least 13 months in February. In a region encompassing the Middle East, Africa and Asia, sales declined by 2.6 percent; there also was weakness in Japan and Australia. McDonald's said a change in the timing of the Chinese New Year also was a problem.Continue reading...

brand partners

Kraft, Taco Bell Amp Up Grocery Store Partnership with New Products

Posted by Dale Buss on March 6, 2014 03:38 PM

If you can't get to one of Taco Bell's 5,500 locations during any of the four "day parts" the chain has recognized, now including breakfast, then there's another way for you to solve your craving for all things Bell: stop at your local supermarket.

Kraft has been partnering with Taco Bell since 1996 to offer Taco Bell-branded products in the grocery aisles, now totaling 28 different items ranging from sauces to "dessert kits" that require only the addition of ice cream, according to Advertising Age.

Now Kraft and the chain are turning up the heat on their collaboration this week by launching four new products: two dinner kits and two seasonings. The Taco Bell Ultimate Taco Night Kit, for example, comes in two varieties—Cheesy Taco Grande and Steak & Cheese Soft Taco Kit, both featuring Kraft's Velveeta cheese (which isn't offered in Taco Bell products in restaurants).Continue reading...

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McDonald's Global Challenge: Fight Sluggishness at Home, Build Relevance Abroad

Posted by Dale Buss on February 11, 2014 03:51 PM

It's not easy being a global brand, even if you're McDonald's, as you still have to succeed locally. It's possible that its continuing domestic US sales woes are mostly due to treacherous winter weather and a bad new product bet or two. But it's also possible that the chain and the brand are reaching the end of once-outsized relevance to the American consumer as it continues to face food health and labor critics.

Until it becomes evident which scenario is true, McDonald's CEO Don Thompson is relying on improved performance in key international markets to offset the brand's frustrations in the United States. He will rely on incoming US CMO Deborah Wahl to help him tackle the larger issue of McDonald's actual place in its home market. The auto industry marketing veteran is still transitioning into her new role, which she formally assumes on March 3.

The chain reported that US same-restaurant sales fell by more than 3 percent in the first quarter, or about double the percentage decline expected by analysts. Thompson blamed the snow and cold but analysts cited the continued sluggishness of the US economy. But of course, it could be the third factor: American consumers have gotten used to bypassing McDonald's more and more.Continue reading...

digital moves

Starbucks Shuffles Management to Turn Focus to Digital

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 30, 2014 06:47 PM

Get ready for some digital experimentation from Starbucks. CEO Howard Schultz has shaken up the upper ranks of his company and also announced that he’ll be working more closely with Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman and Chief Strategy Officer Matt Ryan on "next generation retailing and payments initiatives," according to the Wall Street Journal.

"They will partner with me as I focus on Starbucks mission, growth initiatives and the convergence and integration of our retail and e-commerce, digital, card and mobile assets around the world," Schultz said in a statement Wednesday.

Schultz handed over some of the day-to-day responsibilities to other executives so he could focus more on digital. After all, Starbucks, an investor in mobile payments provider Square, is processing five million mobile payments each week and that number is expected to grow, the Journal notes. The chain currently allows consumers to pay with a mobile app and loyalty cards.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Among Other Things, McDonald's Tries to Relocate the 'Quick' in Its Quick-Serve

Posted by Dale Buss on November 15, 2013 06:02 PM

McDonald's retains its long-term growth goals despite its troubles in 2013. But the chain certainly is tweaking how it plans to reach them, with new efforts ranging from selling McCafe coffees in supermarkets with Kraft to its first Happy Meal tie-in with the National Football League. And along the way, McDonald's is trying to figure out how it lost the "quick" in its quick-serve.

CEO Don Thompson said at the company's investor conference this week that McDonald's has suffered from an iffy consumer economy, and labor- and commodity-cost pressures. The company also has been hamstrung by its own poor execution in areas that have included the less-than-stellar sales performance of its steady menu of new Limited Time items, such as Mighty Wings chicken wings.

But the most problematic area for McDonald's may be that its US customer service has suffered recently, in part because it has introduced too many of those new menu items, too quickly, for its operations to adjust efficiently.Continue reading...

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