Fast-food chains move slowly. New ideas no longer get rolled out across the country after getting invented in a test kitchen. Instead, they go from invention to testing in a handful of restaurants before being brought out regionally. Then, if people respond well, the new item gets a national rollout.
That’s a model that Brian Niccol, former chief executive of Yum Brands’ (YUM) – Get Yum! Brands, Inc. Report Taco Bell, brought with him to Chipotle (CMG) – Get Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. Report, which he now runs. The idea seems obvious, but it’s one that sacrifices surprise for a better chance of success.
By the time a new menu item hits the public, it has already been written about, tasted, and promoted on social media. That’s a recipe, so to speak, that might remove a little shock factor, but by the time a new item comes out, there’s already some built-in anticipation for it,
That makes the new Whoppers from Restaurant Brands International’s (QSR) – Get Restaurant Brands International Inc Report Burger King a big deal. The chain tested the three new sandwiches locally in Ohio and the results were strong enough to roll out the products nationally.
Home of Even More Whoppers
Burger King has been pretty liberal when it comes to using the Whopper name. The chain has tried some pretty outrageous things — Angriest Whopper and Ghost Whopper come to mind — but in this case it’s sticking a little closer to its original formula with its three new Whopper Melt sandwiches. They debut nationwide starting Thursday, March 10, Chewboom reported.
The Whopper Melt takes the classic sandwich and puts it on bread instead of a bun, adding some heat to melt the cheese. It comes in three varieties: the Whopper Melt, Spicy Whopper Melt, and Bacon Whopper Melt.
- The Whopper Melt offers two slices of toasted bread, two Whopper Jr. patties for a quarter-pound of flame-grilled beef layered with melted American cheese, caramelized onions, and Stacker Sauce.
- The Spicy Whopper Melt also features two Whopper Jr. patties, American cheese, jalapenos, caramelized onions, and a creamy spicy sauce between two slices of toasted bread.
- The Bacon Whopper Melt also has two slices of toasted bread, layered with two Whopper Jr. patties, melted American cheese, crispy bacon, caramelized onions, and Stacker Sauce.
The new sandwiches cost $4.29 on their own (prices may vary by location) and the chain is offering some deals on using them as part of meals ordered through its app.
Burger King Wants the Whopper Hype
Some of Burger KIng’s new Whopper releases have been all about media attention and getting people to sample something unique.
That’s not the case this time. Consumers know the difference between a bun and toasted bread, but sometimes familiarity brings success.
The Whopper Melt offers something very familiar in a slightly new package. That’s likely to drive regular customers to try the new sandwiches while perhaps enticing lapsed customers back into the fold.
Restaurant Brands International’s CEO, Jose Cil, had said in October, during the chain’s third-quarter-earnings call, that he expected Burger King to lean on the Whopper more.
“[We] know we have the most loved [quick-service restaurant] hamburger in America. All our data shows our flame-grilled Whopper outperforms the hero product of our competitors, yet many of our burger promotions for the last few years have focused on sub-brands or extensions to our core rather than doubling down on our flagship hero products,” he said.
“More to come in our burger category strategy, but there is no doubt that the Whopper is very important to our long-term plans.”
New Whoppers that are different but familiar leverage the popular brand while offering its fans slightly new takes to reengage them with the chain.