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Burger Deals Escalate; Is BK’s a Value?

Filed under Pricing, Value Menu

Yesterday’s post spotlighted the accelerating discounting competition among burger chains. Burger King’s introduced a “2 for $10 Whopper Meal” deal and Sonic added a new $5 Boom Box meal bundle to compete with similar “value deals” from McDonald, Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr., Checkers and others.

But yesterday had barely begun before several interesting reactions occurred. One was from Checkers/Rally’s, which ratcheted up its $2 Meal Deal into a $4 bundle that includes a sandwich, small fries, small drink and—an item no other chain offers in its bundle, yet—a small milk shake.

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Another notable reaction came from a BurgerBusiness.com reader who pointed out that in some markets Burger King’s coupon mailers from last fall, if not more recently, offered the same 2-Whopper-meal bundle for $8.99. If it’s now $10, where’s the value, this reader asks. Fair question.

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In Canada, Burger King is offering a “Mix & Match 2 for $5” promotion. One of the sandwiches available is a new BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich. Other options are the Big Fish and Chicken Sandwich (both available regular or spicy).

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Meanwhile, McDonald’s decision to allow local markets to do their own value promotions in tandem with the national McPick 2 for $5 offer is resulting in a plethora of different price points. Will consumers get confused? A sampling:

  • McDonald’s of NEPA (Northeast Pa.) is promoting an $11.99 Bundle Meal with two big Macs, two cheeseburgers, a 10-piece Chicken McNuggets and two medium fries.
  • The Austin, Texas, co-op is promoting a $3.99 Big Breakfast with Hotcakes.
  • In Nebraska you can get any large fountain drink for 89¢.
  • In New Orleans it’s McPick 2 for $3, and choices include a Sausage Biscuit with Egg and snack-size Oreo McFlurry.
  • Several markets offer small blended beverage (frappe, smoothie or shake) for $2, though some don’t include shakes.
  • The GSA co-op centered on Spartanburg, S.C., promotes two Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuits for $3.33.
  • The Coastal Bend (Texas) co-op promotes a 20-piece Chicken McNuggets “Sharebox” for $5.
  • The Michigan co-op offers a freshly baked Carrot Muffin and small coffee for $1.99.

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McDonald’s has been testing “Signature Crafted Recipes” since February 2016. The customization platform is really just a different name for the “TasteCrafted” and “Chef Crafted Flavors” platforms testing since last year (but not Create Your Taste, which is a more complicated customization program). The idea is that diners pick a protein and one of three topping combinations: Maple Bacon Dijon, Pico Guacamole or Sweet BBQ Bacon (below).

McD Sweet BBQ Bacon

Lately, however, a few markets have been promoting the Sweet BBQ Bacon build as though it were a standalone menu item. The topping combination is sweet BBQ sauce, applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onion, crispy onion and white Cheddar, which can pair with a quarter-pound beef patty, Buttermilk Crispy Chicken or Artisan Grilled Chicken patty. Perhaps Sweet BBQ Bacon is proving a popular enough combination for this to survive as a menu item even if the “Signature Crafted Recipes” platform doesn’t last.

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Umami Burger has a new LTO. The Negroni BBQ Burger salutes the Blended Burger Project sponsored by the James Beard Foundation by creating a burger patty that mixes beef and chopped mushrooms. The idea that such blending makes burgers healthier and more sustainable.

The Negroni BBQ Burger’s toppings are Campari-and-cola barbecue sauce, melted Gouda cheese and a kale slaw that includes kale, cabbage, green apple and diced bacon, tossed in a bacon vinaigrette. The burger (shown below) will be available through July 31.

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7 Responses to Burger Deals Escalate; Is BK’s a Value?

  1. Adam

    Also of note for a June roundup: Chick-fil-A re-launched their app, which now comes to rewards. Perhaps their version of trying to offset not getting in on the LTO discount bundles (for the record, though, they’ve more or less frozen certain menu items at the same price for years. I don’t know if I’ve ever scene a FSU sell a Number 1 sandwich for anything other than 2.99)

    And the McDonald’s 1.99 milkshake thing is for any size — at least in the Baltimore metro market.

  2. Mark Holm

    The answer to your reader’s question about why Burger King’s offer has changed from 2 Whopper Meals for $8.99 to $10 is increasing labor costs. As the U.S. Department of Labor continues to tinker with its definitions of labor categories and the movement across the Country to increase the minimum wage, it will be impossible for fast food restaurants to offer discounted deals at the price points we have witnessed over the past few years.

  3. Thanks. Chick-fil-A isn’t a burger chain, so it wasn’t included.

  4. Will (McDonald’s) consumers get confused?

    Not really, these are local advertising Co-Op activities supported by local TV, radio, etc. Consumers in Toledo will have little or no exposure to what’s happening in Denver or Los Angeles.

    The risk is that McDonald’s is giving up some of the power and efficiency of buying TV advertising on a national basis. But, given the size of the McDonald’s advertising budget being efficient may no longer be an issue.

  5. Doug Otte

    The 89 cent fountain drink promotion in Nebraska is for large size drinks, not any size.

  6. To Admin and all…..

    You said:

    Another notable reaction came from a BurgerBusiness.com reader who pointed out that in some markets Burger King’s coupon mailers from last fall, if not more recently, offered the same 2-Whopper-meal bundle for $8.99. If it’s now $10, where’s the value, this reader asks. Fair question.
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    More Recently?? Based on coupons in my area I can still get the 8.99 price with coupon.

    http://s91585912.onlinehome.us/howididit/ScanBurgerking.jpg

    NOW I have not been to the local BK in my area recently so I do not know if they are offering the deal without a coupon.

  7. So “more recently” is correct for your market, right? Thanks for sorting it out.