Every day more than 11 million customers enter one of the 16,000 Burger King restaurants worldwide. That’s close on one billion patrons consuming all there is to know about the Burger King brand. The taste impression it’s making. The ergonomic observations, as subtle or overt as they may be. How it stacks up against the other fast food brands. All leading to the critical decision: whether or not this experience, overall, will turn out to be gratifying enough to return for more.
Over the past few years some of the essential foundations that made up the very concept of fast food began to change. Notably, that it was no longer fast. In fact it has become more like slow food. Diversity in menu choices in response to consumer needs (freshly prepared salads!) has played a huge part in shifting industry dynamics. Consumers are more health-conscious, and more demanding of selections that fit in with nutritionally driven lifestyles. (Following the July launch 2018 launch of its “Beyond Burger”, a Vegan option made entirely from plant-based meat substitutes – and reportedly impossible to tell apart from its meat counterpart – A&W sold out its entire North American stock within 3 weeks of launch.)
And guest experience. Whereas the whole notion of fast food has been almost entirely focused on subjective food satisfaction, it is the tangibility of the overall experiential component that has now become the key to sustainable success. Can you guarantee me a memorable experience?
When you have more than a quarter of a million employees representing the iconic Burger King brand in more than 100 countries, the challenge becomes even more scary.
The single challenge put to Lindstrom Company in 2017. Daunting? You think?
We began by looking first at what big data would reveal. Interestingly, following the chain’s 2010 takeover of Warren Buffet’s 3G Company, there appeared to be an ever-increasing reliance on big data in all operational decision-making aspects. What we noticed – and this was the aha! moment – was how these big data decisions also influenced critical aspects that only small data will reveal, most notably: customer insights. And, as it turned out, it was the seemingly insignificant consumer observations which provide and inform vital small data, that were to become the foundation of a major refocus of the chain, globally.
Next, with a mission-critical requirement to see the world from a guest’s point-of-view, as opposed to the conventional corporate “one size fits all”, we scattered teams around the world in order to carefully observe the guest experience and identify clues that would ultimately lead to the kind of revolutionary insights only small data will provide.
For instance, is there a correlation between the number of guests exiting a Burger King prior to ordering, and the restaurant temperature? Do customers pour Coke differently into a cup than before, because clutching their smartphone with one hand makes the operation more difficult with the other hand? Or this: is it true how the last fries in the box taste thirty percent better than the first?
These, and other invaluable insights, led to a complete turnaround of the entire journey. Everything changed. Recalibrated restaurant temperatures; finding new opportunities to reinvigorate “flame grilled”, Burger King’s longstanding point-of-difference; infusing a unique cravability into the food creation process. And reigniting the 70’s “let us do it your way” culture to once again make Burger King the undisputed sovereign of fast food.
These insights led to a complete turnaround of the entire journey. Everything changed. From recalibrated restaurant temperatures to finding new opportunities to reinvigorate “flame grilled”, Burger King’s longstanding point-of-difference.