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Friday, January 22, 2010

Burger King to get into the bar business

Burger King will open a new extension to their fast-food empire in February 2010. The Whopper Bar in Miami will be a new type of restaurant where customers can get beer and burgers with a familiar logo backing up the new concept. Burger King will sell Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors beers along with a special menu of burgers and toppings.

While the obvious challenges will be how to handle the new concept with a new labor structure, considering most fast food restaurants are staffed by employees under 21, and this will require an older workforce, what do you think of the brand implications and their choice to partner with the domestic mass-market brewers?

The big-three brewers (which recently became the big-2 with the acquisition of Coors by Miller Brewing) have been facing a loss of growth recently and have all been financially challenged. Each of these companies has been part of industry-wide consolidations to secure their financial position, while microbrews and imported beers have been increasingly greater in demand. Should BK have tried to ride the wave of the up-market beers rather than partnering with the mass-market drinks? It would seem that bargain-hunters may be the target market for Bud, Miller, and Coors, yet will that crowd be enough to make this new concept successful?

Another interesting challenge is that the name "Whopper Bar" was introduced in Universal Studios theme park, as an upscale location that focuses on Whopper customization. This location will not change to serve beer, which would lead to a fragmentation of the Whopper Bar brand.

What do you think? Is BK making the right alliances, and are they sending mixed messages by having multiple formats under the same name?

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