Burger King Vs. McDonalds

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Burger King and McDonalds have historically been pretty similar companies. They both provide fast and convenient food for a low price, and tend to offer similar types of food. This past year, however, the two companies have been losing some of those similarities. As a result of this, both have been performing differently as well.

For almost every player currently in the fast food industry, the last couple of years have been rough. Consumer preferences have been changing, there is more competition, and economic problems have hit the industry hard in comparison to many other industries. Burger King, however, has been able to make some progress while their biggest competitor, McDonalds, has continued to take a hit. The reason behind this seems to be the difference in strategy both companies have chosen.

As Burger King continues their attempts to rebrand themselves, they’ve done a couple things that have worked out well for them. Most notably, they have reduced the size of their menu but increased the quality of items they continue to offer. McDonalds on the other hand continues to develop and offer more items. This has caused an increase in complexity and a decrease in the quality of what they’re offering. After looking at how both companies have performed over the last year, it’s pretty obvious that Burger King has taken the better route.

When attempting to choose the process strategy of a company, the executives need to focus on customer requirements, cost, and efficiency. Burger King’s strategy has done a good job in all of these aspects. They’ve been able to increase the quality of the products they offer, tailoring them the preferences of their customers, while also reducing cost. Their money isn’t tied up in new product development or in item lines that aren’t attractive to the market. McDonalds has basically done the opposite. By continuing to develop and introduce multiple new products, their cost has risen and they haven’t been able to focus on what their customers’ preferences are. McDonalds is big enough and does have the money to do this and not notice any substantial loss in market share, but if they continue to do it, that might not continue. If the trends of this last year continue, the gap between them and Burger King is only going to get smaller.

The view of McDonalds seems to be that their strategy has worked in the past, so eventually it should work again. Do you think that Burger King is just utilizing a recovering economy, and that their new strategy will eventually stop working when it fully recovers, or is this a trend likely to continue? Is it better for a fast food restaurant to place more value on quality or variety?


More Lobster for Red Lobster


Americans go to Red Lobster with the intention of indulging in various forms of seafood, but would you ever dare to try a plate of pork chops at Red Lobster?  Not surprisingly, Red Lobster’s sales have been dwindling down in the past few years for this very reason.  Red Lobster was failing to supply their core customers’ demands and was instead trying to appeal to everyone.

Red Lobster was previously owned by Darden Restaurants, the famous owners of American’s favorite food chains such as Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, and Seasons52.  Recently however, Darden Restaurants decided to drop Red Lobster from their lineup and thus Red Lobster decided to rebrand their image and revamp their menu under their new owners the Golden Gate Capital Group.

As a Band-Aid, their “quick fix” Red Lobster turned to handing out promotional deals.  Hoping to grab there past customer’s attention, the lobster chain ended up overwhelming their customers and failed in achieving their goal of increasing sales.

From thorough research conducted, Red Lobster claimed, “while we had the seafood our guests crave, we didn’t have the right kind of seafood, enough of a presence of lobster.” Red Lobster believes it has found its new solution in creating a new menu.  Red Lobster’s new menu is claiming to cater to their customers’ demands by raising the amount of lobster presence from 75 percent to 85 percent and including refreshing new dishes such as Lobster Tacos and Roasted Maine Lobster Bake.

Oddly enough there was not enough lobster at Red Lobster.  Customers would choose to dine at Red Lobster with the intention of eating seafood not chicken linguine.  Some of the dishes on the menu were not even closely related to seafood and did not contain any seafood.  It is understandable that Red Lobster would want to cater to people with dietary limitations; however, it is hard to understand why there would be a demand for pork chops at a seafood restaurant.

In another attempt to make their menu more appealing, Red Lobster has decided to change their layout.  Red Lobster has eliminated the text heavy format and opted for a two-page fold with more pictures.  Their research has shown that a more navigable menu would make the environment and dining experience more appealing.

Red Lobster’s president Salli Setta claimed, “We want to be not just the biggest seafood restaurant, but the best seafood restaurant.”  This is quite a large goal for a restaurant that is suffering from years of bad sales.

Red Lobster’s new take on their menu could help but can it really turn the company around?  When was the last time you dined in at Red Lobster? Have you noticed any positive or negative differences in the food chain?




It’s Amazing What Soup Can Do!


CAMPBELLCampbell’s Soup Co. is the leading maker and marketer of soup. But for two straight years, the soup business was struggling, alerting the stakeholders about the possibility of its fate to collapse. However, this past year, Campbell has featured its new skillet sauces line in hopes that it can expand out the dinner segment in 2014.  Denise Morrison, the president and chief executive officer explained that even though it is difficult to create new market segments, she is confident that Campbell’s Skillet Sauces is a “break-through” concept that has a “high potential for reward.” As a result, Campbell Soup Co. has seen the U.S soup business stabilize after the sales dramatically increased by 14%.

Campbell is currently collaborating with its customer base to create an entirely new category of “unique, convenient and versatile” dinner sauces, while experimenting with existing soups to improve taste. This would be an example of product design. Furthermore, Campbell took the process a step further and came up with an innovated product featuring soup in pouches that attract younger and more affluent consumers. Campbell’s competitive advantage over its competitors is its brand name which consumers keep coming back for more. The soup giant has built its brand name upon its Simple Meals platform featuring the popular Go Soup. In addition to the new dinner sauces, Campbell has announced it would be launching the Campbell’s Slow Cooker Sauces.

Despite its recent success, Campbell faced a problem with the product’s location placement and shelving; but the company said it has found the best way to shelve. However, Campbell continues to struggle in two categories which are U.S. beverages and North America Food service.  The self stable juice category sales have been declining due to overwhelming competition against Campbell’s V8 V-Fusion line and decreasing demand from restaurants. Ms. Morrison proposed a solution to this dilemma, by planning to apply the exact business model for its soup business to its beverage business. The plan consists of improving the taste of its existing vegetable juice while adding new products such as V8 energy drinks to attract a more diverse consumer base.

Most importantly, Campbell’s optimistic future is emphasized on management’s attention to the basics and expansion in faster-growing segments. For example, the V8 is considered a strong brand with high benefits such as promoting health, so Campbell’s management team is figuring out ways to improve its product. Campbell has invested in a new manufacturing line to increase the capacity of creating fresh soup to tackle the issue of structural changes in the food service sector. Campbell’s simple business strategy which is to keep costs low while improving its quality has proven to be successful in achieving its short term goals as well as laying a foundation for its long term goals.

If you have ever bought a Campbell product or is an avid consumer of Campbell, what made you choose their products?

Do you think that Campbell’s expansion of new products will maintain or increase its sales and revenue?




Senate Votes In Favor of Internet Sales Tax Bill

When it comes to shopping most consumers turn to the Internet to find what they are looking for. There are many different benefits to going on the web to shop. One of the benefits is how easy it is to find the best deals by a click of a button vs going store to store.  Some the convince are being able to be at  home not worrying about traffic, parking and long lines. I work in retail and one of the most common comments I get about online shopping is how customers are able to avoid taxes. Customers always want to get the best deals possible if they could save by shopping online they will. It is hard being a sales man and trying to match online “in cart” prices. Many times a discount has to be added on top of the sales price to get the sale of the product to accommodate taxes cutting into profit.  Congress is currently trying to get a bill passed to make online businesses required to collect sales taxes.

The current law states ” companies could not be forced to collect sales tax unless they had a physical nexus in the state: a warehouse, a production facility, or a sales representative”. One of the more well known cases is the how Amazon was targeted to collect sales taxes.  One of the benefits is that the State who in turn rely less on Income tax. Which would be beneficial to the tax payers. I personal think that congress should search somewhere else to collect revenue. I believe this would have a major effect on what shopping online is all about. Completion between Online and Store Fronts will increase. Online stores would have very completive pricing due to the fact of less overhead to worry about vs a strore front.

Buyers and seller always find a way around things but we won’t know those strategies till or if the bill is passed. How do you feel as a consumer who buys many products online about the bill? Will this cause you  to go out to shop?




Is Apple losing its mojo?

Apple has been at the top of its game for over ten years now. Apple has had great success with its invention and especially with the Iphone. The Iphone was the top selling phone each year that it came out.  Even though it’s been the top selling phone for years, Google’s Android platform is starting to make its way up. According to recent polls and editorials, the Iphone is starting to slip away and more people are starting to prefer Google’s Android platform.

  • The Android platform now accounts for 75% of the smartphone market, which is up from its last quarter’s 68%. Apple’s Iphone dropped from being 17% of the market to 15%. This shows us that people are slowly starting to make the switch from an Iphone to phones with an Android operating system.
  • Apple is known for having loyal customers. Each year there newly innovative Iphone hits the top of consumers’ wish list. It seems like that is starting to change. According to Strategy Analytics 88% of U.S Iphone users said they would stay with the IOS for their next smartphone. That number has dropped from 93% from the previous year. In Europe the numbers dropped from 88% to 75%. This shows that people all around the world are starting to switch from IOS to another operating system.

There must be a reason why Apple fans are starting to slowly switch to Android phones. A big problem that Apple ran into was with the quality of its newest Iphone the Iphone 5. There were many complaints by consumers that there new Iphone 5 came out of the box with scratches or dents. Apple is known for making top quality products, and to produce thousands of Iphone 5 with quality defects is unacceptable. There were reports that this was due to the high demand and that they could not be made in time. It seems like Apple was choosing quantity over quality.

Is Apple starting to lose its touch? Do you think that Apple will be able to recover from the bad rep it got for the quality issues with the Iphone 5?





Taking Online Shopping Offline

Online Shoppers who choose to forgo shipping chargers visit Walmart to pick up items ordered online.Link to NYTimes article “Luring Online Shoppers Offline”

Online shopping has caused retailers such as Macy’s, Best Buy, Sears and The Container Store to loose millions in sales. Consumers have had such a profound obsession with purchasing a product at the lowest price possible that almost every product sold at traditional retail stores is constantly being matched up with prices online. Currently, Best Buy is even going to the extent of customizing the bar codes on their products so they cannot be scanned by consumers so they are able to look up online prices from sites such as Amazon.

To avoid having in store sales reach an all time low, retailers are attempting to lure consumers into the store by promoting their own online operations on site. Walmart has made an effort to add Web return centers, pickup locations, free shipping outlets, payment booths, and drive-through customer service centers for online sales to appeal to the growing amount of online shoppers.

Retailers like Walmart believe that they could potentially have an advantage over their online retail competitors due to the fact that shopping offline eliminates the expensive shipping fees. Walmart gives customers a variety of options such as being able to order products from their online website and then being able to pick it up and pay for it at the store, thus appealing to customers who have a trend of preferring to pay cash for products.

From focusing on the cash option, Walmart has seen a dramatic rise in demand due to promoting online pickup at their stores, which now accounts for half their sales. As a whole, Walmart has the advantage of appealing to customers that do not have a bank account of credit cards. In addition, the in store pickup also appeals to consumers that favor to buy items in bulk that do not qualify for online purchases.

Fellow retailers of Walmart such as The Container Store and Sears have taken on site purchasing to a new level by promoting a drive-through service that allows for consumers  to get what they need on the go. This service has also seen great success because it appeals to the consumers who shop online because they do not have the time to navigate their way through the retail store to purchase the products they need. Recently, a new trend has shown that customers who used this pick up  service have caused them to visit 50% more than customers who regularly shop in the store.

The competition between traditional retailers and e-commerce companies will continue to exist, but the efforts made by the traditional retailers to keep up with online shopping have been greatly significant. With all the new bells and whistles added to their offline services, will retailers truly be able to take shopping offline for good?

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/05/business/retailers-lure-online-shoppers-offline.html?_r=0

Forecasts vs. rumors

Corporations like Apple, Samsung and Motorola; we hear rumors about them all the time. Like Apple with the iPhone 5, and Samsung with the new S3 and Motorola with the new Atrix 3.

I still can’t forget when everyone I know didn’t buy their iPhone 4 waiting for iPhone 5 and they were disappointed with the iPhone 4s. And now, the same thing is happening, people who are about to upgrade their phones and didn’t buy the S2 saying they’ll wait for the new Galaxy S3 and or iPhone 5.

Since I am obsessed with technology, and I keep up to date by buying the latest gadgets in the market. And while doing this course, during class when we were talking about product cycles and inventory management, I began wondering. At that very moment, I remember when I was thinking in my own world, when my teacher asked me a question that I didn’t pay attention to, and I had to ask her to repeat the question again. It was about the product life cycle and how short it is with technology.

Then during class, we started looking at the forecasting time horizon, during this part of the discussion; I was wondering what is their forecast period? Short?

We move on to the forecast methods, and during that very specific part I was trying to see which method they could possibly use? I know as the Professor said, forecasts are seldom perfect. However, they need some kind of forecast to keep the inventory right.

Immediately two blog posts of my colleagues came to my mind. First, Car dealerships with zero cars to sell. Corporations like Apple and Samsung do not want to be like those dealerships.

Second, Why Guess When You Can Forecast?

I quote from my colleague post:

“The mistake our team made was to purchase the product inventory from manufacturing companies without accurately forecasting the demand for those products.

The result? We ended up with far more inventory than we could sell. Food products are perishable; their expiration deadlines are much shorter than for other consumer goods. As those expiry dates approached, a considerable percentage of the inventory we had bought was wasted in our own warehouse. Needless to say, the company suffered some heavy losses.”

I think those corporations deal with this situation very frequently, in fact, the news of the S3 affected the iPhone 4s sales in some regions specifically in Bahrain. I do not have data to back my theory but I have seen this happening.

I wonder how does corporations like Apple deal with those rumors? How can they forecast the demand on the existing products when there is a rumor about a new product? I believe those corporations are living on the edge with their products and forecasts. They probably calculate the risk and add it to the product price to cover the forecast loses? I don’t know. But I can tell you this, it must be really hard.