Burger King 2023

Aug 16, 2023 | Insights, Restaurant Research

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Executive Summary

Burger King is the 3rd largest burger chain (by U.S. system sales) built upon its iconic “home of the Whopper” brand equity which emphasizes flame grilling (over an open flame) that represents a clear upgrade from griddling. Brand strategy is to highlight: innovation around its Whopper core equity (100% real Whopper with no artificial flavors or preservatives); chicken upgrades & innovation; and corporate’s $400MM “Reclaim the Flame” plan (introduced in September 2022) which includes $120MM in incremental advertising (new creative agency is tasked with modernizing BK’s brand positioning & increasing guest engagement), $30MM in digital investments and a $250MM “Royal Reset” investment in tech & restaurant upgrades. Positioning benefits from: 11% digital sales mix which is mostly driven by delivery and by BK’s app; and customer experience improvements driven by process/equipment improvements, menu simplification efforts and tighter quality control initiatives. Strong 1H23 sales reveal that the chain’s turnaround is gaining traction and includes a 1Q23 system comp increase of +8.7% y/y (including 30%+ growth in digital sales) and an +8.3% y/y 2Q23 increase. All-the-same, BK has been historically challenged by a financially stressed core low-income demo that requires lower price points and this has pressured store-level profits, which in turn, drove recent operator insolvencies with management indicating that it expects to close 300 – 400 additional units during 2023 as it continues to cull the system of weaker stores. In conclusion, while Burger King is progressing in finding ways to expand its market reach towards new, more affluent consumers who are willing to pay for the brand’s strong core equities and quality upgrades, the chain’s ongoing turnaround requires more than 2 quarters of strong sales to show that it has progressed beyond its historical struggles.

Burger King Market Share Graph

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