Burger King is turning the battle for breakfast into a battle of words. In selected markets, the chain is advertising the availability of a “Burger King brunch” rather than just breakfast.
The brunch menu—testing in a few markets in Massachusetts and Florida—is offered daily until 10:30 a.m., the same as for breakfast in other Burger King locations, but it includes a few specialty items. One is that traditional brunch beverage, the Mimosa, except BK’s is nonalcoholic. Instead of orange juice and champagne, it’s a family-friendly blend of OJ, Sprite and ice, according to one unit serving it.
The other brunch-specific item is a new BK Ciabatta Breakfast Sandwich. It combines scrambled egg, cheese, tomato, ham and bacon (yes, both) with a smoky tomato sauce on a ciabatta roll. According to test sites contacted, the menu price for the sandwich is $2.99; the Mimosa is $1.99. The final element of the brunch menu in test markets is that BK’s signature Whopper burger is available during the morning.
These items are offered in addition to Burger King’s national breakfast and $1 Breakfast Value menus, expanded this month to include a BK Breakfast Muffin Sandwich, which it has tested in Chicago since December, and the new BK Breakfast Bowl. Its first menuing of ciabatta bread—a longtime favorite of Jack in the Box—and the use of the term “brunch” indicate Burger King’s interest in exploring a slightly upscale positioning, at least in terminology and ingredients if not yet in price, as it seeks to expand its share of an increasingly crowded QSR breakfast marketplace. Subway most recently joined the fun, introducing its first breakfast menu, and Jack in the Box this month upgraded its morning menu with the introduction of a Grilled Breakfast Sandwich. And Hardee’s just this morning added a double Loaded Biscuit ‘N’ Gravy with egg and sausage to its morning menu.
Breakfast is not quick-service restaurants’ largest daypart, but it has been strongest in resisting customer-traffic erosion, according to data from The NPD Group/CREST. For the year ended in November 2009, mornings accounted for 22% of QSR customer traffic, down 1% from a year earlier. Lunch gets 34% of the day’s customers, but it was down 2% compared with the previous year. Supper/dinner was 25% but down the most at -5% versus the previous year. The remaining 19% of customer traffic is the PM Snack daypart, which CREST finds was flat compared with the previous year.
Meanwhile, Burger King this week adds the Whiplash Whopper to its menus nationally. The burger, topped with crispy onions and cheese, is named for the villain in “Iron Man 2,” which opens May 7. As part of its deal with Marvel and Paramount, Burger King also offers action-figure premiums with its kids meals. 7-Eleven is running a “Live Like a Billionaire” sweepstakes in conjunction with the film.