Burger King is cutting the price of its Impossible Whopper, the faux-meat burger it introduced last year, as sales start to slip.
Carrols Restaurant Group Inc., the biggest Burger King franchisee in the United States, said sales tapered off to about 28 Impossible Whoppers daily per store — down from 32 previously. The company, which has more than 1,000 Burger King locations, said sales seem to be stabilizing at that level. The sandwich was recently added to the chain’s two-for-$6 discount menu on a temporary basis. That compares to the previous suggested price of $5.59 per sandwich.
The slowdown is not stopping the chain from using the item to attract customers, however. More promotions and ads are coming for Impossible Foods Inc. items, Carrols Chief Executive Daniel Accordino said at a conference.
“That plant-based platform will be advertised and will be expanded on the Burger King marketing calendar in 2020,” he said, noting that there will be an expansion of the Impossible Whopper line this year, and that the company is testing the Impossible Whopper Jr. and Impossible Sausage.
Shares of Beyond Meat Inc., a competitor of privately held Impossible Foods, fell 5.2% on Wednesday.
Dominic Flis, a Burger King owner in Little Rock, Ark., said Impossible Whopper sales have recently fallen to fewer than 20 per store a day, down from 30 when it was first introduced. He may now be selling it at a loss, he said.
“It’s definitely compressing the margin,” he said.
Burger King’s plant-based Whopper “continues to exceed expectations, drive traffic to our restaurants and attract new incremental guests,” Chris Finazzo, president of the chain’s Americas region, said in a statement. “We continue to see high levels of repeat restaurant visits, showing that guests are enjoying the Impossible Whopper and returning for more over and over again.”
Burger King, owned by Restaurant Brands International Inc., introduced the meat alternative nationwide last year after a successful test in St. Louis. The company said in October that the sandwich was a “huge hit” and helped U.S. comparable sales, a closely watched measure, climb 5% in the third quarter.
Impossible-related promotions have included free delivery, free samples for delayed airport passengers and, beginning last week, the item’s entry on the discount menu.
Impossible Foods “is satisfied” with sales at fast-food restaurants, spokeswoman Rachel Konrad said. She said that a lot of variability is normal due to factors such as seasonality, ad campaigns and restaurant locations.
“We’re happy to work with customers to improve sales across the board,” Konrad said.
Nationwide, restaurants and grocery stores are rushing to add plant-based options. It remains to be seen whether their popularity is a long-lasting trend, but the biggest restaurant and food companies are moving to capitalize on the growth. Starbucks Corp. said Tuesday that it’s exploring meat alternatives for its breakfast menu, while McDonald’s Corp. is testing faux meat from Beyond Meat in Canada and from Swiss company Nestle in Germany. Food distributor Sysco Corp. said last week that it’s introducing a new plant-based burger patty in the United States.
Despite the rising popularity of faux meat, Americans are also eating more real meat than ever. Total consumption of red meat and poultry is expected to rise to 225.6 pounds per person this year from 224.3 pounds in 2019, according to USDA data. Even at Burger King, there’s no evidence the meat-free option has led to less meat consumption.
Impossible Whopper sales were not cutting into regular Whopper sales, UBS analyst Steven Strycula said in a note last month.
It’s not surprising that sales have leveled off, said Adam Chandler, author of “Drive-Thru Dreams: A Journey Through the Heart of America’s Fast-Food Kingdom.”
“The fatigue tends to set in after the initial buzz,” he said, noting that Carrols has reported a similar stabilization in sales of the much-hyped Popeyes chicken sandwiches. But Chandler doesn’t expect the Impossible Whopper to be cut from menus anytime soon because of the chain’s big investment in a national rollout.
“It’s going to stick around for a long time,” he predicted.
NEW YORK, Jan. 23, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN), the leading media brand in the foodservice industry, has unveiled its 2020 NRN Power List, an annual list of the 50 most influential people, including a ranking of the restaurant industry’s top 10 most powerful people.
Selected by the editors of Nation’s Restaurant News, and curated from industrywide submissions, this year’s NRN Power List highlights 50 innovators in technology and innovation disrupting and shaping the future of the food economy. This year’s list features people bringing game-changing technologies and unrivaled creativity to the biggest issues facing restaurants today, including delivery, digital ordering, customer experience and sustainable sourcing.
The NRN Power List’s 10 most powerful people in foodservice are:
Also on the full list of 50 are CEOs leading billion-dollar digital businesses, executives pioneering the use of artificial intelligence in restaurants, food scientists changing the way we eat, chefs pioneering the use of CBD and cannabis in the kitchen and entrepreneurs pushing the boundaries of what defines a restaurant today.
The complete Power List report can be found here.
“The restaurant industry is undergoing a period of limitless innovation,” said Nancy Luna, an NRN senior editor specializing in covering the restaurant technology landscape. “That is why Nation’s Restaurant News has dedicated its 2020 Power List to the disruptors, digital transformers, food innovators and risk takers defining the industry.”
“The NRN Power List is the most-watched curation of foodservice industry power players, and the 2020 list provides a comprehensive look at cutting-edge leaders in all areas of business,” said Sarah Lockyer, group publisher of Nation’s Restaurant News and the Restaurant & Food Group by Informa Connect. “Innovation is a required element for success today, and the Power List allows our audience to learn from and be inspired by the best minds in the business.”
“We are also excited to extend the Power List brand throughout the year with additional power player rankings and networking events that give our readers and partners even more opportunities to learn, grow and connect,” Lockyer added.
About Nation’s Restaurant News
Nation's Restaurant News (NRN) is the No. 1 source of business information for the foodservice industry. For more than 50 years, NRN has served the information and engagement needs of foodservice professionals, offering award-winning content across all mediums with the goal of driving businesses forward. NRN was named Best Media Brand by the Jesse H. Neal Awards in 2019. NRN is part of the Informa Restaurant & Food Group.
About The Restaurant & Food Group by Informa Connect
The Restaurant & Food Group by Informa Connect is the largest and most integrated media brand portfolio in foodservice and supermarket retail. The group connects the entire food and foodservice ecosystem of operators, chefs, retailers, manufacturers, vendors and solutions providers through traditional, digital, social and custom media as well as in-person events and conferences.
Companies of all sizes today are looking to improve the effectiveness of their social media marketing — and with good reason: Digital platforms are constantly innovating the way that brands are discovered, shared and experienced. The data speaks for itself: The number of worldwide social network users is expected to reach 3.09 billion monthly active users by 2021, and global internet users spend some 136 minutes per day surfing social networks.
Many organizations have responded by allocating more resources to digital marketing — technology now accounts for 29% of total marketing expense budgets, according to a recent Gartner estimate, and digital ad spend for 2020 is estimated at about $385 billion.
Yet these numbers are a double-edged sword. Consumers today react to products, services and ad campaigns in real-time through social media, creating new demands on organizations. Generating and sustaining high levels of engagement and enthusiasm online requires clarity around the firm’s goals and values.
Successful digital strategies are not about aesthetics or style, but a fit between what your brand promises and delivers. To develop your strategy, ask yourself the following questions:
1. What are your goals?
In the case of startups and niche products, your social media marketing strategy may begin with the need to test ideas, create awareness and build anticipation for new products and services. In other cases, the goals can be far more specific — boosting sales, geographic expansion, increasing real-time brand engagement, or generating quality sales leads.
Once you’ve set your goals, identify your metrics for success. Are you looking to gain “likes”? Do you want to spark an online dialogue around an issue? Or do you want to inspire behavior change, for example, encouraging your followers to recycle? Your metrics must align with your marketing goals.
The sheer volume of available data can make this task challenging. Clearly defined metrics, including a timeline and budget, will ensure that your campaign is on track. Not only do goals allow you to clearly measure your progress, they will also give you a clear answer to the next question that you need to ask which is…
2. Which platforms should we be using?
Decision making around platforms must be rooted in an understanding of your customer’s identity and preferences. Different social platforms appeal to different demographics, and you need to do the research to find out where your target audience hangs out online. For example, younger audiences may be more effectively reached on newer platforms, like TikTok or Snapchat. Health and wellness brands, with their emphasis on aesthetics, may want to develop on a more visual strategy, focused on Instagram. The same logic applies to geography — WhatsApp is popular in India, whereas if you want to reach people in China, you’d need to focus on WeChat or Weibo.
3. What is your content strategy?
Quite often, organizations have the budget, team, agencies, and ideas in place, but they have haven’t thought deeply about content. This leaves both revenue and goodwill on the table: One survey revealed that 46% of consumers reported they follow brands because of the inspirational content. You need to understand what types of content — for example, articles, video, pictures — will drive engagement with your audience. Great content strategies create conversation and sharing with the brand and amongst other users.
Your content should be unique, useful, and shareable. For example, one of the authors (Deepa) is currently working with ArogyaWorld, a global health nonprofit, on a campaign to help establish some common understanding around “eating right” in India. Inspired by the U.S. government’s MyPlate.gov initiative, we worked with a leading design firm to translate the Indian government’s complex nutritional guidelines into a simple picture for both North and South Indian cuisine, showing cooked quantities and meal plan options for various ages and lifestyles. The graphic will be rolled out on social media and in its Healthy Workplace program that cover 3 million employees.
If your content is sensitive, your content strategy should take that into consideration. For example, Techdivine, a firm owned by one of the authors (Ananthanarayanan), once worked with a client in the mental health industry who was concerned about the lack of engagement on their Facebook page. It quickly became clear that most users were not comfortable engaging on this issue on a public platform. We re-oriented the strategy to encourage users to chat with the brand by using private messaging options of social networking sites. We also created resources which allowed people to get answers to their questions securely with expert articles shared via exclusive password access through private chats on social networking platforms.
4. Are you ready to talk with your audience
— in real time?Social media interactions are two-way — driven by both brands and consumers — so your organization needs to show that it is listening and engaging with questions, concerns, and suggestions. Companies that seize a moment can generate brand awareness and goodwill. For example, when a Twitter user recently mocked a South African man who proposed in a KFC, the fast-food chain responded by providing the couple with a wedding planner. Many other brands, including Coca-Cola, Woolworths and Audi, also chipped in to support the couple, showering them with gifts and experiences.
Social media offers brands the opportunity to create memorable experiences. Techdivine, a firm owned by one of the authors (Ananth), once saw a tweet from someone travelling from Manhattan to Chicago for the first time, mentioning that she was looking for something spicy to eat. We looked back at her earlier tweets, which hinted at an interest in arts. So, on behalf of our client, a restaurant based out of Chicago, we welcomed her to the Windy City and even shared links to some interesting art events and activities around the city. We made sure, not to pitch our restaurant prematurely.
Curious to know who we were, she thanked us for our tweet and inquired about our restaurant. At this point, we sent her a beautiful collage of some popular spicy dishes that the restaurant served, along with a map and a deal she could unlock if she visited the restaurant and tagged the brand by checking in. Needless to say, what followed was a visit, not only from her, but many others who saw this conversation online.
Brands today, have a much bigger ability (and responsibility) to inspire and connect with consumers. Trusted brands are more likely to attract business, and social media is a powerful tool to create engagement, gain feedback, and build that trust with your audience. By answering the above questions, you can ensure that your social strategy aligns with your goals and adds values for your users.
Catch up on my current posts along with industry articles