Successful multinational companies didn’t achieve their success by luck. Taking a look at the company profiles of industry leaders is a way to improve your business and marketing decisions. For example, carefully examining Burger King similar companies can help you understand what it takes to succeed in the fast-food industry.
In this post, we will review some of the most successful fast-food restaurants. These are all considered Burger King’s competitors.
Companies Similar To Burger King
Naturally, the most prominent businesses competing with Burger king are those that serve burgers in a fast-food setting. The following are businesses that are considered its rivals.
Hands-down, the number one fast-food chain in the US (and the world) is McDonald’s. Its consistent branding strategy can be credited for its initial growth. To this day, consistency is something most people associate with McDonald’s.
The company is known as the leader in the fast-food market. This is no surprise, as McDonald’s operates upwards of 30,000 locations worldwide. These locations generate an annual income of $40 billion in sales. McDonald’s was incorporated in 1955, and it has been influential in the American market ever since.
Experts believe that McDonald’s was able to significantly change the eating habits of people in the US. The company remained successful despite changes in the market and attitudes towards fast food in general.
Rapid growth in the 1960s and 70s can be attributed to increased automobile use in the US. It was also during that time that its iconic Big Mac was introduced. The burger chain kept up with the fast-paced lives that Americans began to embrace. The service at all McDonald’s locations was standardized, fast, and reliable.
In the early 70s, McDonald’s had the idea to introduce a breakfast menu—the Egg McMuffin. This was another feature that positioned the company as an innovative leader in the industry.
Still, in the 90s and early 00s, the company faced a few problems. Several lawsuits and internal systems stunted its growth for some time. For years, consumers’ perception of McDonald’s was a company that sells cheap, fatty, and unhealthy food. Its brand image strategy is continuously tackling this issue in a variety of ways, including:
- public relations and press releases
- introducing clear nutritional information to build trust
- including options that are labeled ‘healthy’
Although DQ originated as an ice cream shop, the Brazier branches of Dairy Queen serve burgers, fries and other fast-food items. In fact, most DQ locations nowadays aren’t focused on frozen dairy products. Some of the worldwide and state-side locations are named “Dairy Queen Grill & Chill”. These are full-service restaurants that are a hybrid between fast-food chains and typical fine dining.
Dairy Queen makes almost $4 billion in revenue from the US alone. Counting its global revenue the number comes up to approximately $5 billion. While these figures aren’t exactly comparable to giants like Burger King—they are indicative of progressive success.
The company is well-known for its advertising techniques, which often included clever slogans. Also, its marketing during the 70s featured Dennis the Menace while the character was still relevant. DQ doesn’t have a mascot but instead relies on jingles, slogans, and other advertising methods for its marketing.
This American fast-food restaurant serves up standard menu items and then some. Compared to Burger King, Wendy’s isn’t a brand name that is familiar to most people. Nonetheless, the company operated locations and franchised locations bring in a revenue over $2 billion yearly.
Again, this may not be much. However, Wendy’s has been showing signs of growth in recent times and it’s not slowing down. The most prominent feature in Wendy’s hamburgers is that they are square.
On a global level, Wendy’s has a pricing strategy that is unbeatable. To be specific, its pricing depends on geography. This means that the price of its burger changes according to the local currency to make it more affordable for consumers in an area. Most fast-food restaurants have fixed prices that convert globally. For example, the price for a McDonald’s cheeseburger is pretty much the name (in dollars) all around the world.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Although the restaurant has been around since the mid-80s, the company only began franchising two decades later. However, its success story is an inspiration because the food chain expanded relatively fast.
In total, there are 1700 Five Guys locations all over the world, which began from a humble five stores. The company takes quality so seriously that employees are trained to check every item that they are working with to specific high standards.
Reportedly, the founders took pride in researching toppings and trying different options to ensure that every menu decision they make is spot on. Despite the many options that the menu offers, Five Guys features a menu that is simple and minimalistic. Its only products are burgers, sandwiches, fries, shakes, and complementary peanuts.
To stress the quality of its products, Five Guys restaurants offer freshly cut french fries—a prominent feature in all its locations. In fact, industrial sized potato bags are usually seen in the restaurant near the kitchen.
Some would say the Five Guys has a cult following, whereby the only comparable competitor would be Chick-Fil-A. However, this is one of the Burger King competitors we mention because its annual revenue is estimated around $1.7 billion.
Despite operating solely in the US (that too, in only 10 states), Whataburger is a rising star. We thought it is worthy of mentioning because their plans for expansion pose a threat to Burger King’s sales.
The fast-food chain was founded in Texas seven decades ago. Yet, it has only recently decided to expand and open branches all over the US. Whataburger’s brand image relies on being a homely and honest brand. Also, it tries to showcase its burgers as ‘bigger and better’ burgers.
A recent marketing strategy that the company used was to use employees and customers as brand ambassadors. The strategy proved highly successful. In fact, Whataburger’s annual revenue from its locations is steadily increasing—surpassing the $2.5 billion mark.
Despite not being a burger chain, KFC is one of the Burger King competitors in terms of finances and success. Known for the legendary bucket of fried chicken, KFC is a global success.
One of the industry’s most well kept secrets is KFC’s ‘11 secret spices’ that are used in making the signature spicy chicken. Many people have tried to make copycat recipes. Yet, most chefs miss the mark. How much is KFC’s chicken worth globally? The brand has an estimated value of a whopping $5.4 billion.
The reason we say that this is one the biggest competitors for Burger King is that KFC is the second largest global restaurant chain after McDonalds. Burger King holds that spot in the US, making it a close contender. Consistent quality and taste are part of the brand image that Colonel Sanders’ chicken is known for.
Even though many people can’t handle the grease and spice, KFC remains a popular favorite all around the world. In some countries like Japan, a bucket of fried chicken has become a traditional Christmas food. The brand is so successful that many small eateries try to imitate the brand image and create copycat recipes.
One thing that KFC did right (besides the finger lickin’ good chicken) is its relationship with franchisees. The contracts were so successful they are responsible for the majority of the brand’s expansion in the 1980s.
Pizza is one of America’s favorite foods, right up there with a classic burger and fries. While small neighborhood pizzerias are probably going to serve up the best quality pies, many consumers are fond of pizza chains like Domino’s. The reliability and low prices make this chain one of the stores similar to Burger King in reach. This holds true in the US and globally.
Domino’s was founded in 1960, and proudly lays claim to being the world’s most extensive pizza-delivery system. Locations all around the world offered delivery long before food delivery apps existed.
Menu items aren’t limited to pizza, as the restaurant serves boneless chicken, pasta, other chicken dishes, desserts, sandwiches, and more. One prominent feature of Domino’s restaurants is the open kitchen. This tactic helps build consumer trust as the customer can see for themselves the quality and sanitary conditions.
With $4.4 billion of annual revenue reported in 2021, Domino’s has a firm position in the global market. The company operates from its headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It runs a franchising system as well as international subsidiaries. This allowed for rapid expansion into the international market.
Domino’s trains franchisees and subsidiaries extensively to keep its locations running with the same standards and branding. Another marketing strategy that worked well for Domino’s is its ‘30-minute guarantee’. This was a system the company applied in the 80’s where a discount is given if an order is delivered later than 30 minutes. Domino’s originally offered late deliveries for free.
However, its marketing strategy needed to change when a delivery driver injured a woman. To keep a positive consumer perception, Domino’s amended its original slogan, even though deliveries are still considerably fast.
Another American pizza joint that branched out into a chain, Papa John’s is the world’s third largest pizza-delivery restaurant. John Schnatter (the founder) started selling pizzas out of the back of his father’s tavern in the mid-1980s. From those humble beginnings, the company now operates 5000 locations globally.
Its yearly revenue is close to $2 billion. While the brand name has seen some ups and downs, consumer perception of their products is generally favorable. Most customers associate Papa John’s pizza with the signature garlic dipping sauce. Some would credit the pizza chain for inventing the widespread practice of dipping pizza crust into buttery garlic sauce.
For years, the company partnered with the NFL. In fact, Papa John’s was the official pizza for the National Football League, exposing the brand to millions of potential consumers. Following a few scandals involving the founder. Since then, Schatnner has been fired and decreased his stock ownership to 4%.
‘Shaq’ Shaquille O’Neal has recently joined the board of directors and speaks for Papa John’s brand officially. Sales and stock prices of the company have since improved.
Serving up a very generic and Americanized version of Mexican food, Taco Bell has been in business since 1962. It was founded in California by an entrepreneur (Glen Bell) that was inspired by the hard shell tacos he saw at a Mexican restaurant across his hot dog stand in California.
Sixty years later, Taco Bell now brings in nearly $2 billion in revenue. In the years since its opening, PepsiCo bought the company in the late 70s, and then sold it to Yum! Brands in 1997. Officially, the restaurant says that it serves Tex-Mex meals, and it is most well known for hard shell tacos and burritos.
It is one of the leading Mexican-inspired food chain in the US. On a global level, Taco Bell operates over 7000 locations. Part of the company’s vision is to become the most recognized Mexican food brand globally. While this does not directly put it in competition with Burger King, Taco Bell is still competing in the fast-food market. Yum! Brands has already laid out plans to open up 1500 locations worldwide to expand Taco Bell’s market outside of the US.
Recently, part of Taco Bell’s marketing strategy is to position the meals as more healthy to appeal to the younger consumers. Generally speaking, its target market is between 18-34 years.
Founded over half a decade ago in Connecticut, USA–Subway is an American fast-food chain that serves made-to-order submarine sandwiches. Consumers are offered a high level of customization when ordering their subs, leading to an endless number of options.
The Subway franchise grew very rapidly, and it is the largest restaurant operator globally. There are over 40,000 Subway locations worldwide, serving millions of customers everyday. The company spends over half a billion US dollars in advertising every year. In fact, it is the largest advertiser in the US fast-food market.
Possibly the most famous marketing tactic that the company used was employing Jared Fogle as its spokesperson. He was a man from Indiana that claimed that his inspiring weight loss journey was based on eating only from Subway.
The chain also heavily focuses on two qualities in its marketing: freshness and made-to-order sandwiches. In other words, Subway is one of the few restaurants that offers customers the option to choose every ingredient that goes into their meal. While customer orders are common in the restaurant industry, Subway integrated this idea into its basic menu.
Burger King is one of the leading burger and fast-food chains in the US and worldwide. The American chain was founded in 1953 in Florida. Its marketing tactics reached their peak in the 1970s. This corresponds to its most successful years. From humble beginnings, the flame-broiled burgers have positioned the company as the second-largest fast-food chain in the US.
In the mid-50s to early 60s, Burger King showed accelerated growth as the company expanded from Florida. After the first five years, the founders decided it was time to grow into a nationwide fast-food chain. Here are a few things that made Burger King stand out:
- It was the first burger chain with dining rooms.
- The introduction of the Whopper—a larger burger at the time, with a low price.
- Franchising was made very lucrative for franchisees, allowing for rapid expansion.
In 1967, ready-made foods manufacturer Pillsbury bought Burger King for $18 million. That figure wasn’t small for the time, but Pillsbury thought that the burger chain was worth it as there were a little under 300 franchise locations all over the US.
Today the Burger King brand name makes over $1.8 billion worldwide.
Brand Image Problems
Compared to McDonald’s, there were difficulties in creating a consistent brand image. Pillsbury found that bringing the nationwide Franchisees in line with the same branding strategy was difficult at first.
The biggest problem was that many of the investors that bought the Burger King franchises were large business owners. This made it easy for them to run its locations successfully, often better than the parent company.
There were more than a few power struggles with some of the franchisees. Pillsbury had to deal with a franchisee that owned a major portion of the Burger King outlets and was moving towards a takeover by the 70s. What was the final solution to Burger King’s brand image problem? Creating a stricter franchising policy.
Donald Smith was a top-of-the-line executive at McDonald’s that Burger King brought in to help fix its branding problems. In the end, the company needed to focus on consistency in its brand image—a prominent feature of McDonald’s.
What Makes Burger King Successful
Now that we’ve taken an in-depth look at the biggest Burger King competitors, let us explore the burger chain for the reasons of its success. These are several factors that contribute to Burger King’s success:
- Consumer perceived value. Consumer reports show that most customers prefer the Whopper’s taste over other burgers offered by similar stores rivaling Burger King. Also, the company stresses the use of fresh ingredients and a superior grilling method. This tactic increases consumer perceived value so that customers are more likely to choose its products over other options.
- Cost leadership. By reducing its operating costs, Burger King is able to offer a higher quality product at a lower cost. These lower costs translate to relatively better prices and keep customers happy. Most consumers report that they are more satisfied after consuming a similarly priced meal from Burger King when compared to other restaurants.
- Differentiation strategy. Several strategies that are part of Burger King’s marketing plan and advertisement differentiate its brand to consumers. Free drink refills, fresher ingredients, and better cooking methods are all things that set the restaurant’s burgers apart from its rivals. Burger King continuously showcases these features in its advertisements.
- Growth strategy. The company is constantly in search of emerging marketing to break into. Its growth strategy depends highly on opening branches in new locations to make the restaurant more accessible to new markets.
- Simple menu. Finally, Burger King’s menu is incredibly simple and not overly complicated. The psychological aspect of reading the menu was taken into account when writing the menu. By refusing to overwhelm its customers with too many choices, the restaurant is offering a simpler, easily digestible menu.
Burger King and similar businesses are all competing for their share of the market. Yet, the company has positioned itself firmly in consumer’s minds as a producer of high quality fast-food from fresh ingredients.
The burger chain continues to grow day by day, and it is a dominating force in the global fast-food market. Good management and franchising are driving factors in Burger King’s success, along with its exceptional marketing.