Big Burger Buzz and News from the U.S. Restaurant Industry
It's not so such a good thing to be an iconic American burger brand in a foreign country when the citizens of that country get angry with America. Guilty by association, McDonald's restaurants became targets and potential targets of angry mobs protesting against the film, "Innocence of Muslims" recently. It's not like McDonald's was involved in any kind of cross-promotional campaign with the amateur film or had a producing credit. But when you're a member of an incensed mob, details aren't really important.
These are not the only protests being waged against international McDonald's locations either. Hindus in India are also planning protests in response to future plans for McDonald's restaurants to open near Hindu holy sites and shrines. Although the menu at these particular holy McD's will be completely vegetarian, it's the sacred cows on the menus of its 33,000 other restaurants that the Hindu protestors find offensive. The larger question for McDonald's customers worldwide is if McDonald's has the ability to create an affordable vegetarian menu in another country, why can't it add vegetarian options to its other restaurants as well?
In other global burger happenings, some fascinating research conducted in the UK discovered that fast food chains actually have the ability to imprint themselves in the brains of children. It seems that sugary, fatty, salty fast food fare triggers the pleasure center of a child's brain. And if those pleasure centers get triggered before the child is old enough to master the art of self-control, just the mere sight of a fast food logo can trigger those those brain pleasure centers again.
In essence, this research study has found that exposure to fast food when children are too young to know better turns them into trained Pavlovian fast food addicts. Based on this research we can most likely expect fast food marketing aimed specifically at children to accelerate dramatically.
Another very different kind of study has found that char-broiled burger smoke emissions are more detrimental to the air quality of Southern California than the 18-wheelers traveling up and down its roads. To be specific, one char-broiled hamburger emits more "uncontrolled particulate matter" than an 18-wheeler that travels 143 miles. This is due mostly to the fact that trucks are bound by emissions regulations that aren't applied to fast food restaurants.
This news is of no concern to most quick serve restaurants specializing in hamburgers, since the only toxic emission from their grill-fried fast food fare is grease. But the Burger King chain might be losing sleep over the air quality equipment capital expenditure it sees in its future, which might be a hefty price to pay for competitive differentiation.
One other quick serve study (because you can never study the fast food industry too much) may have an influence on all retail restaurants, whether they are in the quick serve category or not. Researchers have found that customers eat more in bright, noisy environments than they do in relaxed restaurant atmospheres. It's likely that the fast food chains themselves have already discovered this in research of their own, and this may be one of the reasons why McDonald's recently launched its own closed circuit TV network and installed TVs in 700 of its dining rooms.
One interesting finding of this research was that customers who dined in a more calm, more dimly lit environment ate less, but enjoyed their experience more. So the question for quick serve restaurants is do you want customers who are more satisfied and therefore more likely to return, or do you want customers to eat more at every visit?
It's not difficult to know what the answer is for the largest fast food burger restaurants with the business formula of quantity-over-quality. But going full circle back to the survey that started this article, the Five Guys chain seems to be betting that the long-term-satisfaction-over-short-term-sales business model is the winning path for its burger business. So far, research show us, there's a significant number of burger consumers who agree.
More About the Largest U.S. Burger Restaurant Chains:
- McDonald’s Head Chef Claims Nothing Is Unhealthy At McDonald’s
- Burger King Employee Lawsuit About Uniforms or Religion?
- Five Guys Makes Big Promises in Every Restaurant