chew on this
Posted by Dale Buss on May 22, 2013 10:38 AM
When you're stuck in neutral as McDonald's has been lately, you begin to try a little bit of everything. Expanding the menu. Focusing on value options. Sacking your chief of US operations. And, now—reducing the menu.
On the heels of its elimination of the Angus Burger, Fruit & Walnut Salad and Chicken Selects, there are reports that other McDonald's U.S. menu items are on the chopping block too as the chain scrambles for ways to maximize traffic and revenues while minimizing costs to deal with stubbornly reluctant consumers. It's also part of how the chain hopes to woo back millennials, as CEO Don Thompson is expected to outline at the company's annual general meeting on Thursday.
Caesar Salad, McSkillet Burrito and the Southern Style biscuit may also disappear, according to a franchisee e-mail obtained by Bloomberg. These would be further cutbacks in McDonald's core menu at a time when the company increasingly has been emphasizing the traffic-building value instead of "limited-time" items such as popcorn chicken and McRib sandwiches.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on May 9, 2013 04:23 PM
How low can you go? That may be the biggest question facing McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and other fast-food operators these days, in the US as well as around the world.
That's because cash-strapped consumers worldwide, struggling amid low-growth and slowing economies, are making business difficult for fast-food chains even though each brand is now emphasizing "value menus" and increasing low-priced offerings like never before. The QSR rivals are doing a lot of other things as well, including introducing higher-priced new menu items. But the most important competition, and the crux of their strategic dilemma, is found at the low end.
"That consumer that is getting hit hardest by the economy is locking in on a message that has a price, and when they see and hear 99 cents, Wendy's gets put in their consideration set," Emil Brolick, CEO of Wendy's, told the Wall Street Journal.Continue reading...
chew on this
Posted by Dale Buss on May 2, 2013 07:06 PM
Taco Bell is trying to re-establish its "value" chops with America's fast feeders with a new "$1 Cravings Menu" that re-tethers the brand to the magical single-greenback pricepoint; it's being tested now in Kansas City and Sacramento, and a national rollout this summer is in the cards.
The brand also promises more limited-time offerings such as the 99-cent Beefy Crunch Burrito that it is bringing back on May 23.
Taco Bell marketers believe the chain is getting squeezed out of consumers' minds by all the added buzz in the QSR industry these days about new "value-menu" plays by McDonald's and other giants, as the entire business struggles to get the cash-strapped American consumer back in an eating-out mood.
"There's been a lot of press on a lot of brands choosing to bring out value menus," Brian Niccol, Taco Bell's chief markerting and innovation officer, said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. "We think about that completely differently: Shame on us if what we have to do is create a 'value menu,' because at Taco Bell, in the end, the whole menu is 'value.'"Continue reading...
Posted by Barry Silverstein on May 1, 2013 05:39 PM
As the mobile payments market heats up with entries like MasterPass from MasterCard, mobile payment player Square continues to forge new ground.
Last November, Square, the brainchild of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, scored a coup by getting Starbucks to accept mobile payments in some 7,000 locations. Users of Square Wallet could also browse menu information and store hours, gain access to their transaction history and even explore nearby businesses. Now Square is adding new features to Square Register so it is all the more attractive to quick-service restaurants.
The move by Square is significant. For the most part, the brand's customer base is comprised of individual merchants, including taxi drivers, food truck owners and people who provide personal services. By adding features such as the ability to modify orders and customize kitchen tickets, Square is hoping to further penetrate the food business.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 1, 2013 03:50 PM
For decades, the eponymous mascot of Chuck E. Cheese has appeared to the general public as an extremely sizeable mouse that’s eaten a little too much of the famed restaurant’s pizza. For a time, the guy even carried a cigar around with him. But in a world that has heard a steady drumbeat against child obesity, it hasn’t exactly looked good to have a mascot who looked like he could lose a few pounds.
On Tuesday, Chuck E. Cheese execs and shareholders at the CEC Entertainment’s annual meeting in Texas met a slimmed-down version of Mr. Cheese, whose transformation began last year when his illustrated form changed shape in advertising and signage to become a lot more rock star than his past version.
With the change came the disappearance of the man who was his longtime voice, Duncan Brannan, and the introduction of Jaret Reddick as the new voice of Cheese, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Reddick, of course, is the lead singer of pop-punk band Bowling for Soup, which has a few albums Cheese execs probably wouldn’t want their mascot singing on, such as “Drunk Enough to Dance” and “A Hangover You Don’t Deserve.”
Changing the mascot may be the simplest thing CEC does this year. The 36-year-old company announced in February that its profits fell 20.7 percent to $43.6 million in fiscal year 2012. That’s a little surprising for a brand that was just named the No. 1 kid-friendly restaurant by Technomic's Consumer Restaurants Brand Metrics, based on customer surveys over the last two years.Continue reading...
brands under fire
Posted by Dale Buss on April 30, 2013 07:47 PM
To paraphrase the late US Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois: "A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there—pretty soon you're talking about real money."
That's why investors, analysts, journalists and CEOs all tend to listen to activist investor Bill Ackman: He can throw around $1 billion at a time, and it is very real money. Right now, for example, he's got a $1 billion short position on Herbalife, betting that the multi-level-marketing company's shares eventually will be worthless.
But for today, at least, there's reason to doubt the acumen of Ackman on Herbalife, a marketer of weight-loss shakes and skin lotions that he has condemned as a pyramid scheme. The company beat analysts' expectations about its quarterly earnings again this week and raised its full-year outlook, as well as celebrated the growing influence of Carl Icahn, an old-school corporate raider who's increased his stake in the company and publicly defended it against nouveau gadfly Ackman.Continue reading...
games people play
Posted by Dale Buss on April 23, 2013 06:40 PM
Pizza and gaming are eventually likely to evolve into a single pursuit, like football and touchdown dances or movies and popcorn. Now, Pizza Hut is working with Microsoft Xbox to move the process along a little bit.
Today, Pizza Hut is debuting an app for Xbox Live that lets users order a pizza through their Xbox 360 with just the game controller, voice input or Kinect gestures—once they've chosen the nearest pizza parlor. Custom orders are also available.
"If you look at our audience, they love pizza," said Xbox's Larry Hryb, according to Mashable. "I mean, who doesn't? It has international appeal, and Pizza Hut is a recognized brand that matches up well with the Xbox brand."Continue reading...
Posted by Abe Sauer on April 22, 2013 12:46 PM
"Stronger marketing" was one of the four identified strategies in a late 2012 "growth strategies" report from McDonald's Holdings Japan. The chain desperately needs some positive strategy in Japan, where McDonald's has reported 12 consecutive months of decreasing sales and a nearly 18 percent drop in operating profit.
Stronger marketing includes recruiting quality employees and brand ambassadors. To this end, McDonald's Japan has introduced the "Dancing McCrew," a viral hit about dancing through the workday.Continue reading...