In 1984 McDonald’s spent more than one fourth of a billion on television advertising which is like almost 29,000 dollars an hour. And of-course it was selling a lot to get that kind of money back.
How did this mammoth enterprise get started??
The story begins with the coffee shop, an institution then popular in America which was usually a mom-and-pop institution with a counter and six to seven tables having a range of food and drinks available.
McDonald’s was born when Kroc succeeded in launching an offensive attack against the local coffee shop. Later Ray Kroc rapidly expanded its operation to do it on a national scale.
Kroc just made an obvious choice by looking at “what is the most popular item on the coffee shop menu? The hamburger and its second cousin, the cheeseburger”!
More than anything, early expansion of the chain allowed McDonald’s success and its dominance in the developing burger industry. Even today McDonald’s outsells Burger King, Wendy’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken combined.
There are few other factors for the success story to be complete:
v Company’s strict standards and procedures
v Its fanatical devotion to cleanliness
v Intense training given to franchise owners at McDonald’s Hamburger University
Burger King’s Way
The first chain to apply an effective strategy against McDonald’s was Burger King.
Offensive principle of finding a weakness in the leader’s strength and attack at that point felt to Burger King. McDonald’s strength was the hamburger, its uniformity, instant delivery and the inexpensiveness.
The weakness inherent in this strength was that it was an assembly line that McDonald’s used to deliver inexpensive hamburgers quickly. For getting anything special you had to wait in a separate line. So in early 70’s Burger King came up with a strategy to exploit this weakness. “Have it your way” said the ads, “without the pickles, without the relish.”Or any-way you wanted it. At the burger king, the advertising promised, you would not be treated like an outcast if you asked for something special.
The battle of the burgers
Burger king has turned again and again to the middle of McDonald’s line. The classic offensive strategy is of exploiting a weakness inherent in a leader who has overextended his line.
The other classic commercial was one that implied that burger king hamburgers taste better because they are flame- broiled as compared with McDonald’s hamburgers, which are fried. “Broiling vs. Frying” instantly captured the attention of the public and the lawyers at McDonald’s who promptly filed suit.
It was the best thing that could happen to burger king. This issue caught the attention of television networks and dozens of TV stations and newspapers around the US. The sales of Burger King shot up by 10 percent. Meanwhile, as Burger King was busy launching these offensive attacks, another chain was using a different marketing warfare strategy.
Founded by a former Kentucky Fried Chicken vice president, Wendy’s after a late start came on fast with a flanking move at the adult end of the burger market. Wendy’s started making its pitch to grownups. No free hats or balloons and have it your way meant “Without pickles, without relish, and without kids.”
Even the smallest burger over there was a quarter-pounder which was shaped square so that it sticks out of the bun. “Hot-N-Juicy” was the advertising strategy that drove the adult burger idea into the public’s consciousness. You could not give your kids a burger like that.
The most important in helping Wendy’s Sales was the fact that the slogan captured the essence of Wendy’s Strategy: the bigger burger for the adult-size appetite.
The low-end guerrilla
No burger war discussion is complete without the mention of White Castle. This small chain continues to do its business exactly the same way as it has always done. A nostalgia burger is another way to look at the product’s appeal.
There is more than one way to sell a hamburger, as long as you use appropriate strategy. So White Castle peacefully co-exists with their big aggressive neighbours.
The war on burgers has seen many ups and down, many players have come in, tried different strategies and sustained in market in various ways. The war teaches us that marketing strategies can’t be fixed, neither with time, nor with any environment. The marketing strategies have to keep on evolving as the market evolves. So in the nutshell, there are many ways to sell your product, you just need to have to the context right.
Reference: Marketing Warfare –by Al Ries and Jack Trout
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