Michiel Maandag 17.5.2013 09:27 päivitetty 4.2.2016 10:32

Burger Brand Battle

With the arrival of Burger King the burger brand battle is about to start!

It was big news when Restel announced to bring Burger King back to the Finnish fast food market! Of course, McDonald's quickly pointed out that the fast-food market in Finland is tight. Indeed, after Hesburger discontinued the Carrols brand in 2012 the common belief might have been that the Finnish market is too small to go beyond a duopoly. Nothing could be further from the truth: with the arrival of Burger King the burger brand battle is about to start!

So, what might happen?

For the current players in the market, McDonald’s and Hesburger I can only see trouble on the horizon. In general, brands are strongest when they mean one thing and one thing only, like Heinz = Ketchup. This is the power of focus. Both Hesburger and McDonald’s are currently not very focused brands. Let me ask you, how would you describe McDonald’s or Hesburger to your friends in a couple of words without using any marketing talk? It is quite difficult, isn't it? I have heard some: McDonald’s is the original or American, Hesburger is Finnish, there is a difference in mayonnaise etc. These are all right, but they do not help McDonald’s or Hesburger to position themselves clearly in the market.

Burger King on the other hand can capitalise on a very strong position: Burger King = Fire-grilled beef. So, if you want a fire-grilled beef burger you go to Burger King. When it comes to brand clarity, Burger King is currently the winner!

What could McDonald’s do?

McDonald’s could focus on being the really FAST fast food restaurant. After all, a fire-grilled beef burger does imply some slowness. Another alternative is to (re)focus around family: McDonald’s, the family fast food restaurant.

What McDonald’s should not do is to further increase the number of products. For example, the current MyBurger campaign does not help to increase clarity of what McDonald’s is. It is merely a nice marketing activity but it is not helping to build the brand. 

What could Hesburger do?

Hesburger will be in an interesting position. Being a Finnish chain in the middle of the two American giants they should play the Finnish card. This could be done through ensuring everything they sell is produced in Finland. If this means reducing items on the menu, then go for it! For example, a Fish burger made of fish from Finland. Of course, on the box you can read which Finnish fish is used in the burger. Another alternative is to play on the Finnish taste buds. Hesburger is perceived to know the Finns best!

Now, is the Finnish burger market really so tight? Of course not, in addition to Burger King there is space for even more chains to enter the market. Could you imagine a chain that only focuses on organic burgers? I can! Or what about a chain like the In-n-Out burger in the USA that has only three top-notch quality burgers on the menu? Could that work? Why not?

I claim that in Finland there is space for at least five burger chains… let the burger brand battle begin!

Michiel Maandag is the founder of monday brand advisory.