Tag Archive: Product

The new Burger War: 5 Guys vs In-N-Out

s-FIVE-GUYS-BURGER-largeWhen I was a kid, after my hockey practices, my mom and I used to go to Burger King.  It became a tradition.   What did i like the best?   It was nice and quiet, compared to the crowded noisy McDonald’s right across the street.  No lines, no one taking up great seat locations and almost zen.  Today, there’s a new Burger War brewing:  5 Guys versus In-N-Out Burger.  Who will win?  This is a Brand site, so we look at this through the eyes of marketers and consumers, not food critiques.  

Who has the Better Burger?

I know there’s lots of debate out there.  Let’s dispel the myth here: they are almost the same burger.  They take a high quality ground chuck, and squish it firmly onto the grill which locks in the flavor and creates a juicy burger. It’s a much higher quality meat than McDonald’s and much juicier in the end due to the cooking technique.  The only difference is 5 Guys burger feels like the burger actually breaks apart more which could make it feel less fast-food and In-N-Out feels very neatly stacked.  VERDICT:  Tie

Fries versus Shakes

If the burger is a relative tie, then what else you got.  5 Guys wins on fries and In-N-Out wins on Shakes.  Unknown-3I’m a big fries fan, and 5 Guys does have pretty darn good addicting fries.   They give you enough that you likely won’t finish them.  The In-N-Out fries (except for Animal Fries) are a little bit nondescript and boring.  In terms of shakes, the In-N-Out shakes are legendary, whereas 5 Guys is completely missing out by not even having a shake.   Verdict:  Tie, pick your poison and likely only have it once in a while.  

Who has better Atmosphere?

I have to say, neither is very cool at all.  In-N-Out had the plastic feel of a McDonald’s, with booths that are too small to fit those that can eat a double-double.   The hats on the employees are cute, giving it a 50′s diner feel.  And 5 Guys atmosphere feels like a Costco.  Dusty floors, crappy little tables and chairs.  Plus, do we really need 50 signs per restaurant telling us how great you are.  What you’re doing is opening up the door to local establishments finding a niche against both of these with a cooler pub-like atmosphere.  Verdict:  one bad tie.  

So the overall product is a tie.  

Where does In-N-Out Burger win?

Clearly as I’ve heard from the fans, In-N-Out does a great job engaging with their consumers.  The secret menu and the secret sauce, the traditions of the double-double and the “animal fries” all help create a “club” filled with brand fans who will take on anyone that knocks their brand.  images-1There’s a slight difference in who each attracts.  In-N-Out’s menu items are generally less expensive — the chain is most popular with young men ages 18 to 24 with an income of less than $70,000 a year, according to NPD. By contrast, Five Guys patrons are generally 25 to 50 years old, with an income of more than $100,000.  In-N-Out seems to have a more engaged consumer base that it can leverage as 5 Guys is now into the Southern California market ready to do battle right in the backyard of In-N-Out.

Where does 5 Guys win?

5 Guys has been much more aggressive.  They have pursued winning on reviews and lists that can help drive awareness for the brand.  In 2010, they won the Zagat best burger.   They’ve aggressively gone after celebrities such as Shaq and Obama.  Unknown-1And most of all, they are winning on location, location and even more location.  At this point, In-N-Out is stuck as a West Coast brand, in California, Arizona and Nevada with only 280 locations.  And 5 Guys is everywhere, with 1000+ locations, fairly national and even in Canada.  They are clearly following the McDonald’s real estate strategy by trying to be everywhere.  The other area where 5 Guys wins is pricing.  I’m a marketer, so the more price you can command the better.  For relatively the same burger, 5 Guys charges twice what In-N-Out charges.  In this current stagnant economy, people are proving they’d rather pay for an amazing quality burger than a cheap steak.  It feels like In-N-Out is leaving money on the table with the prices that are just slightly above the McDonald’s price points.  

So who will win?  

At this point the clear winner will be 5 Guys.  Unknown-2Just like McDonald’s versus Burger King in the original burger war, it’s not as much about the burger itself but about the aggressive pursuit of real estate.  Unless In-N-Out wakes up, takes all that brand love they’ve generated among their fans and they go on an 5-year big expansion, they’ll be relegated to a regional brand we only visit on our road trips to California. 

5 Guys Is Quickly Becoming the Upscale Answer to McDonald’s

 

 

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

 
Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Consumer Insights:  To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 


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How to Differentiate your Brand through Product Innovation

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Patent Office,  1899

The quote above may have missed out on the airplane, radio, TV, microwave, car, computer, internet, nearly every cpg product and of course my beloved iPhone.  Maybe the sentiment of the quote was just about 100 years too early.  In the last decade, most of the great innovation has been relegated to social media and electronics.  I hope this century brings us much more than just Facebook, BBM and Twitter.  In the consumer goods area, we must be on the 197th version of “new” cherry flavoured bubble gum since 1955, we’ve now seen hundreds of “new” peach yoghurt and I hope I never see another “new” laundry soap telling us that their little blue beads get their clothes really clean.  

New products that truly solve a consumer problem in a unique way are rare.  This is the generation of marketing incrementalism.  On most brand plans I see “launch innovative new products”  sits comfortably in the #3, 4 or 5 slot on the plan, while #1 is fix the advertising and #2 is get more distribution.  

There are four key stages to innovation:  1) Invention 2) Differentiation 3) Experience and 4) Perception.  And the marketing is different at each phase.

Stage 1: Invention of the Core Product:  The challenge of a truly new product is to finding something that is truly different: a new technology, delivery, format or process.   Rarely, do we get to work on a game changing “invention”.  
Stage 1 of a new product usually focuses all of their efforts on launching and explaining why it is needed.  The product at this stage is usually just the core product, not yet perfected, higher costs and limited sales with no profits.   The advertising is about awareness and the message is simple:  you have this problem, we solve that problem.   There’s an effort to the distribution, because many customers are risk averse and afraid of new products.   Consumers are willing to pay a little more to solve the problem, they overlook all the flaws and limitations, and they think “why didn’t I think of this”.  While some consumers love the new product already, most consumers still sit at the sceptical and indifferent stage.  

Stage 2: Product Proliferation means Differentiation:  With a little bit of success in the market comes copy cats.  With more consumers buying, there becomes room for some differentiation, but mostly limited to product still:  new features and added services on top of the core product.  They might have found a way to make things cheaper, easier to use or better tasting.  Prices come down and brands offer more variety.  Distribution becomes a battle ground and getting full distribution becomes the goal.  Customers try to line up behind certain brands–looking for preferential treatment.  The advertising is about consideration and purchase, trying to stake out certain spaces, shifting from product to brand and separating your brand from others. Brands now sell the solution, not just the product.  And consumers start to choose, one brand over another.  While some consumers prefer one brand over another, most consumers are at the like it stage.

Stage 3: It’s all about the Experience:  In order to establish leadership or challenge for leadership, brands begin to talk about the experience consumers will have with their product.  It becomes no longer about the brand or product but about the consumer and how your brand fits into their life.  Brands look to use positioning strategies to separate themselves, focusing on key targets, with unique benefits–a balance of emotional and rational benefits.  Advertising brings the consumer front and centre, trying to establish a routine with your brand in it.  Brands try to move to the love it stage, some do, but most will be stuck still at the like it stage.  Those that get stuck are forced into value and focusing on price, promotions or value.  The brands that reach the love it stage can command a premium, drive share  and establish leadership in the category.

Stage 4:  Managing the Perception:  As the market matures, any share point movements become difficult gain any traction on real quality so the shift moves to perceived quality.  Strategy shifts to brand personality where tone and manner in the execution are paramount so that Consumers connect with the brand and begin to see themselves in the brand.   Brands push to become a Beloved Brand, where demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings and Consumers become outspoken fans.  The brand becomes powerful, with power over distribution because consumers would switch stores before they switch brands and power over competitors who are stuck trying to establish their own point of difference.  Profits are at their highest–revenue, margins are both strong and spending is focused and efficient on maintaining the relationship.  While at the top of the mountain, with firm leadership in the category, the brand is always at risk of losing that leadership.  Challenge yourself continuously the stay at the top.  Avoid becoming complacent.

Ask Gap Clothing, Cadillac, IBM computers, Levis, Sony or Kodak who have each reached the Beloved Stage only to be replaced by new products and brands and moved back down the love curve towards Indifferent.  Most recently, Blackberry.  Only 18 months ago, people jokingly used the term “crackberry” to describe their addictions.  No longer.

The four stages can easily be matched up to the Brand Love Curve and help establish strategic focus for the brand.  At the Invention stage, consumers remain indifferent until you build awareness and explain how your product solves a problem in my life.  At the Differentiation stage, some like it, but you are now facing proliferation and attack forcing your brand to stake out a claim.  At the experience stage, you need to become part of your consumers life and balance the emotional and rational benefits that can move you to the love it stage.  And finally, you have to tightly manage the Perceptions to become that Beloved Brand for Life stage, it’s about connecting with consumers so they see themselves through your brand.   You need to establish your personality and begin to wield the power of being a Beloved Brand.

But be careful: very few brands remain at the top for very long.   

About Graham Robertson:  I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands. I love great TV ads, I love going into grocery stores on holidays and I love seeing marketers do things I wish I came up with. I’m always eager to talk with marketers about what they want to do.   My background includes CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  I do executive training of executives and brand managers, helping on strategy, brand planning, advertising and profitability.  I’m the President of Beloved Brands Inc and can help you find the love for your brand.

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Is Chrysler on the right Path to Becoming a Beloved Brand?

As we hit the US Presidential election cycle, there will be lots of talk about the Bail Outs.   Was it a good idea?   Did it work?  Who was for it?   Who was against it?

Case in point: After receiving $12 Billion in loans, Chrysler has seen three straight years of significant growth since the loans in 08 and 09.   They saw growth rates of 17% in 2010 and 26% in 2011.   And Chrysler is  off to a great start in 2012, growing by 44% and gaining over 2.5 share points in the month of January.   Chrysler is now in a fairly profitable position and has paid back most of the loans, even despite adding a complaint about the high interest rate.   It appears the bail out worked, and it kept and created a few jobs–at least for now.  Right after the bail out, Chrysler is once again in European hands, this time Fiat of Italy owns the majority compared to Mercedes of Germany.   So is Chrysler still American?

It seems that Chrysler has had bouts of desperation and recovery for my entire life.  I remember the Chrysler New Yorker of the 1970s–big huge gas guzzler cars, not an ideal fit as gas prices went through the roof.  Chrysler collapsed in 1980, only to be recovered by the Lee Iacoca legendary story which gave birth to the Yuppy word of a generation: the Mini Van.

With the current recovery, just how is Chrysler doing it?   Smoke and Mirrors and Patriotism?   Or has the product quality really improved?   Do they have a product offering as unique as the Mini Van?  Not really.  Especially if you read the reviews.  Can Chrysler survive with a mediocre product?

Consumers Report said:  “It’s clear that Chrysler is on the right path, but they still have a long way to go.”  Testers were unimpressed with the Chrysler 200, Dodge Avenger, Jeep Compass, adding that they scored at or near the bottom of their respective categories.  I know that when I buy a new car, the search component is high, spending months looking and reading.   Cars are a big investment and I don’t want to be saddled with a car that is “only ok”.  Bad reviews scare me.  The last few cars I’ve bought,  I’m sorry to say that the American cars are aren’t standing up to the Japanese cars.  Even when I look up the basic car features (mileage, horsepower, features) the American cars come up short.    Yes, I have that embedded perception problem, mainly because I’ve driven in a Chevrolet Chevette and a Ford Tempo.  It’s going to be really hard to get those out of my mind.

Chrysler needs to find some way to create an emotional bond with their consumers.   It has to be more than just a recovery and American patriotism.  For decades, consumers have been Indifferent about Chrysler.   Their cars do the basics and nothing really else.  Nothing to get excited about.  On the other hand,Lincoln made an unexpected comeback to get to the Like It stage, even more unexpected it was female buyers that drove it.  And yet, brands like Lexus and Toyota are clearly at the Love It stage.  Toyota consumers are outspoken about their brand, and return the dealer every 4-5 years to buy another Toyota.   Toyota survived what was an attack on it’s safety record, since putting it in their rear view mirror.

The recent Chrysler advertising has been strong with back-to-back SuperBowl ads that stood out.  In 2011 it was home-grown Detroit icon Eminem and this year it was Clint Eastwood.  Two minute ads at half time must have cost them $25 Million just for the media alone. The campaign tag line “Imported from Detroit” is cute, but really is just a new twist on “Made In America” or the “Buy America” calls for patriotitic purchases.  Maybe the only people buying the Chryslers are the people who were in favour of the bail out, which is some type of circular patriotism logic.

Maybe Chrysler isn’t selling cars, but selling hope for America.  But to survive the long term, they need to stand for something more, and build unique quality products that deliver.

So is the sales blip just a blip?   Or just a delay to the inevitable?

So the question remains:  Do you think the bail out helped Chrysler get on the path to becoming a beloved brand?   

The 2011 Chrysler ad seemed to hit the chords even stronger.   Home town icon Eminem is more authentic than California Clint and the ads were selling Detroit, not America.

About Graham Robertson:  I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands. I love great TV ads, I love going into grocery stores on holidays and I love seeing marketers do things I wish I came up with. I’m always eager to talk with marketers about what they want to do.   My background includes CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  I’ve done executive training of marketing executives and managers as well as taught marketing at Major Universities including York University, Queen’s University and Cornell University.  If you have interest for your team, email me and we can customize a program to your needs.  For Powerpoint versions of Beloved Brands as well as other team learning presentations, visit Beloved Brands Learning Sessions

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Finding Your Love in the Art of Being Different.

I found this year’s Super Bowl ads were “pretty good”.   While the Farmers ad stood out as amazing, the Budweiser ad was nice.  But the rest of it while well executed feels like something we see on CNN all the time.  Nothing was different.

Given the current economy, shouldn’t we be taking more risks to stand out rather than playing it safe right down the middle of the road?   Let’s hope someone has the strength to do something different.

The classic launch formula: do the basic product concept testing, hope for a moderate pass.   Then meet with sales and explain how this is almost identical to the launch we did last year, and builds on the same thing we just saw our competitor do.  Re-enforce that the buyer hinted that if we did this, we’d get on the shelves pretty easily.  Go to your ad agency, with a long list of mandatories and an equally long list of benefits they can put in the ad.   Tell the agency you’re excited.   They’ll tell you they’re excited as well.  Ask for lots of options, as a pre-caution because time is tight and we’re not sure what we want.  Just hope the agency clearly understood the 7-page brief.  Test all the ads, even a few different endings, and then let the research decide who wins.  That way, no one can blame you.  Do up a safe media plan with mostly TV, some small but safe irrelevant secondary media choice.  Throw in a web site to explain the 19 reasons why we launched.   Maybe even a game on the website.

Ah, we have our launch. 

This is a guaranteed formula for success, because it follows last year’s launch to a tee and will be done hundreds of brands this year.   Convince yourself, you had to play it safe because sales are down, margins are tight and you will do something riskier next year once this launch is done.   What looks like a guaranteed success will likely get off to a pretty good start and then flat-line until it will be discontinued three brand managers from now.

At some point, to break through in a cluttered market, you’ve got to do something different to stand out:  now, more than ever.   It might feel like a risky move, but it’s almost riskier not to take that chance.

Push yourself to be different.  The most Beloved Brands are different, better or cheaper.  Or not around for very long.  

There are four types of launches:

good-vs-different

Good But Not Different (our launch above) 

These do very well in tests mainly because consumers have seen it before and check the right boxes in research.   In market, it gets off to a pretty good start—since it still seems so familiar.   However, once challenged in the market by a competitor, it falters because people start to realize it is no different at all.  So they go back to their usual brand and your launch starts to go flat.  This option offers limited potential.

Good But Different:

These don’t always test well:  consumers don’t really know what to make of it.   Even after launched, it takes time to gain momentum, having to explain the story with potential investment and effort to really make the difference come to life.  But once consumers start to see the differences and how it meets their needs, they equate different with “good”.   It begins to gain share and generates profits for the brand.   This option offers long-term sustainability.

Not Good and Not Different:

These are the safest of safe.  Go back into the R&D lab and pick the best one you have–even if it’s not very good.   The tallest of midgets.  They do pretty well in test because of the familiarity.   In market, it gets off to a pretty good start, because it looks the same as what’s already in the market.  But pretty soon, consumers realize that it’s the same but even worse, so it fails dramatically.   What appears safe is actually highly risky.  You should have followed your instincts and not launched.  This option is a boring failure.

Different but Not that Good

Sometimes we get focused on the product first:  it offers superior technology, but not really meeting an unmet need.  So we launch what is different for the sake of being different.  It does poorly in testing.  Everyone along the way wonders why we are launching.   But in the end, consumers don’t really care about your point of difference.  And it fails.  The better mousetrap that no one cares about.

It will be up to you to figure out how to separate good from bad.   One caution is letting market research over-ride your own instincts.  As Steve Jobs said:  “it’s hard for consumers to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it.   Yet now that people see it, they say OH MY GOD THAT’S GREAT”

We always tracked many numbers (awareness, brand link, persuasion etc), but the one I always wanted to know was “made the brand seem different”.  Whether it is new products, a new advertising campaign or media options push yourself to do something that stands out.   Don’t just settle for ok.  Always push for great.  If you don’t love the work, how do you expect your consumer to love your brand?  The opposite of different, is indifferent and who wants to be indifferent.      

In case you need any added incentive:  Albino fruit flies mate at twice the rate of normal fruit flies.   Just because they are different!   And the place where most ground hogs are run over is right in the middle of the road.  

Push Yourself to Find Your Difference

 

To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:

 

For a presentation on how to write a Positioning Statement, follow:

 
Other Stories You Might Like
  1. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Turning Brand Love into Power and Profits:  The positioning statement sets up the promise that kick starts the connection between the brand and consumer.  There are four other factors that connect:  brand strategy, communication, innovation and experience.   The connectivity is a source of power that can be leveraged into deeper profitability.  To read more click on the hyper link:  Love = Power = Profits

 

Brand LeadershipI run the Brand Leader Learning Center,  with programs on a variety of topics that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders.  To read more on how the Learning Center can help you as a Brand Leader click here:   Brand Leadership Learning Center

 

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About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge.  Im a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1 so we can stay connected.

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