Nov 19, 2020 | Report Announcements

Hardee’s brand attributes as a regional chain with a Southeast & Midwest orientation include: made-from-scratch breakfast biscuits; made-to-order charbroiled burgers (with over-sized patties & Black Angus options); hand-breaded chicken tenders; charbroiled chicken line; hand-scooped ice cream shakes; and table service. Hardee’s is unique in that its high-margin breakfast business generates a material sales mix and efforts to extend breakfast hours to 2PM should increase brand appeal. New “Feed Your Happy” campaigns (featuring an animated version of CKE’s logo-turned-mascot Happy the Star) helps achieve national marketing scale with a format that can be used to promote the products & LTOs of both Hardee’s and sister brand Carl’s Jr. (West Coast orientation). While messaging will mostly promote common menu platforms, there also will be sufficient support for Hardee’s substantial breakfast business. Efforts to compensate for Hardee’s relatively small scale/share of voice include an increased marketing allocation towards cost effective digital-first and social-friendly content which also targets a younger demo. A significant innovation ramp-up in 2020 helps increase trial/brand reach during a post-lockdown period when drive-thru QSR brands are in high demand. Having said this, pre-lockdown comps have been negative for the last 4 calendar years through 2019 with 5-7 years of traffic declines. The chain’s historic under-performance reflects its struggle around a premium lunch/dinner positioning at a time when QSR competitors have been emphasizing the value portion of their barbell strategies in order to drive traffic. Hardee’s is reluctant to compete with the larger, national players around value/discounting as the brand lacks sufficient share of voice to promote both quality & value sufficiently to overcome trade-down. A lack of all-day breakfast also represents a competitive disadvantage. Further, operational complexities associated with its hand-crafted positioning (particularly as it relates to its biscuits) translate into slower service speeds. The system would also benefit from more progress around digital/loyalty although a recent hire should help facilitate this. In conclusion, stakeholders must continue to exercise patience as brand management works hard to find ways to best leverage the chain’s considerable brand equity built upon quality biscuits, burgers & tenders in a difficult competitive operating environment.

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