Notre Dame University FBAE Prepared For: Dr Elham Hashem Course #: Bad 610 HAVE IT YOUR WAY® Burger King in the Middle East An Intercultural study By: Mazen el Murr Marie Claire yazbeck Noha lyzann bou karam Robert kordahy Samer Temraz Abstract: This is an exploratory research to highlight an important issue in the world of business. Our research handles Burger King, a leading global organization, and the interrelation of inter cultural management in its operations and culture in the middle east area. Since it is an exploratory research we used qualitative methods as effective depth interview and depended on relevant secondary data.
Our study will cover features as decoration ,advertisement ,menus ,customer services ,recruitment ,promotion of employees and standards of operations. The study will be useful for all stakeholders involved ,by showing the importance of inter cultural management and how Burger King merges in a successful way its features in its strategy and general culture. A way reflecting respect for all tastes and customers, cooperation for all staff and employees, and survival and prosperity for the organization as a whole. I.
Introduction: 1. 1 Executive Summary: In this global business field with this booming economy and dangerously advancing technology, the world has become a huge village, with a variety of cultures working together or cooperating and exchanging benefits, either face to face or through communication tunnels via transactions, correspondents and even Internet in many cases. In fact success is having new meanings , it is not anymore achieved by rules and strict systems, rather by flexibility and high communication skills. 1. Objective of the Project: The need for the project is to introduce inter cultural management and its implications on a huge diversified organization with a variety of products and services as Burger King in the middle east area. 1. 3 Inter cultural management : Is the performance of personal or institutional management actions and activities. Furthermore inter cultural management comprises management tasks, functions and hierarchies in inter- and multicultural environments and/or inter- and multicultural contexts and companies.
The task of Inter cultural Management is to analyze and take into account all cultural aspects regarding the behavior of all stakeholders involved in a company. According to different management activities and functions inter cultural management adopted to a variety of fields such as: * Leadership in different cultures. * Conflict management/conflict management strategies in different cultures. * Creating and improving a corporate culture. * Improving and enhancing the employees’ identification with the company. * Marketing strategies.
II. LITERATURE REVIEW: 2. 1 Company profile Burger King Holdings, Inc. is a global fast food chain specializing in hamburgers, fries, soft drinks, and other items. In addition to branded and company owned retail properties, Burger King Holdings also receives revenue from company franchises and property income from leased and subleased retail space. Burger King Restaurants are located in 71 countries and throughout the United States. In 1954, James McLamore and David Edgerton opened their first Burger King restaurant in Miami, Florida.
These visionaries had extensive experience in restaurant business and a shared belief in the guiding principle of offering reasonably priced quality food, served quickly, in attractive, clean surroundings. Our Vision today honors their original vision. The great success of the early restaurants made the Burger King concept a natural for selling franchises. The concept spread rapidly throughout the 1960s and in 1963 the first international franchise restaurants opened in Puerto Rico. While the vision for the Burger King brand hasn’t changed over time, our restaurants have.
The early Burger King restaurants distinguished themselves from others by their self-serve ordering and outdoor patio seating. Burger King Corporation pioneered dining rooms in the fast food industry when it began to enclose its patio seating in 1957. For the first time, fast-food customers could comfortably eat their food at a table inside a restaurant. Burger King Corporation demonstrated its innovation again in 1975 when it began to offer drive-thru service at its restaurants, appealing to increasingly mobile and time-conscious consumers. Burger King success is not hidden in some secret sauce.
It is no secret at all that we fire-grill our burgers to perfection. The grill marks are there, just like when you BBQ at home. A burger is only as good as the high quality ingredients that make it. Red, ripe tomatoes, fresh lettuce and onions, crunchy pickles. Their quest for perfection does not stop with quality ingredients. Friendly employees, clean surroundings, new and exciting products.. It is all about making the Burger King experience the best it can be. 2. 2 LIST OF COUNTRIES WITH BURGER KING FRANCHIEES IN THE MIDDLE EAST; Country| Year entered | Owner| Notes|
Saudi Arabia | 1991| Olayan group| Halal| UAE| 1993| First Food services| Subsidiary of OlayanHalal| Qatar| 2001| Premier Food services| Halal| Lebanon| 1999| King Food Sal| Subsidiary of OlayanHalal| Jordan| | Jordan American food co| Halal| Iraq| | AAFES| | | | | | Kuwait| 1997| AAFES Olayan Group| AAFES location opened after the first Gulf War Olayan has license for Kuwait but there are no locations as of 2011| Oman| Re-open 2010| First Food Services Oman| Subsidiary of Olayan Operated in the country until 2005| Turkey| 1995| First Food Services, LLC| Subsidiary of Olayan Halal| 2. ABOUT THE OLAYAN GROUP Founded in 1947, the Olayan group is a multinational enterprise comprising 50 companies and affiliated businesses engaged in distribution, manufacturing, services and investments . in Saudi Arabia, we operate or actively participate in more than 40 companies , often in partnership with leading multinationals. Internationally, we are global investors, with emphasis on both public and private equities and on fixed income securities. The Olayan name has long stood for a powerful combination of corporate resolve, entrepreneurship and on unflagging commitment to growth and value.
Today, the Olayan group is both a leading diversified Saudi enterprise and a major participant in the field of global investing. 2. 4 BURGER KING IN LEBANON Burger King was introduced to Lebanon in 1999 by King FOOD SAL. (LEBANON), under the management of Olayan FOOD SERVICES (KSA). So far Burger King has 20 branches in Lebanon as the table below shows: 1- Jal el dib| 12-Tripoli| 2-Furn el chebek| 13- Jeita| 3-Raouche| 14-Saida| 4-Bliss| 15-Tsc Jnah| 5-Ashrafieh Spinneys| 16- Harissa food court| 6-Kaslik| 17-Asharfieh| 7- Dbayeh Spinneys| 18- Mazraat Yachoua| 8- Alley| 19-Mastita| 9- Jounieh| 20-Mansourieh| 0- Baoushrieh| 21- Soon a second branch in Saida| 11- Le Mall| 22- Soon in Sour| Information taken from Burger King interview 2. 5 Burger King international standards: Burger King share common vision, mission and culture worldwide. Thus Burger King franchisees should understand and follow those standards in order to keep the same image in all Burger King branches. Mission “We will prepare and sell quick service food to fulfill our guest’s needs more accurately, quickly, courteously, and in a cleaner environment than our competitors. We will conduct all our business affairs ethically, and with the best employees in the mid-south.
We will continue to grow profitably and responsibly, and provide career advancement opportunities for every willing member of our organization. ” Vision: Burger King proudly serves the best burgers in the business, plus a variety of real, authentic foods – all freshly prepared – just the way you want it! Burger King Corporation operates more than 11,000 restaurants in all 50 states and in 60 countries around the world. 90% of the Burger King restaurants are owned and operated by independent franchisees, many of them family-owned operations that have been in business for decades. Culture :
Burger King continues to distinguish themselves from their competitors, such as Macdonalds and Wendy’s, or Hardees in the Middle East by being an exceptional employer. One of the ways that they accomplish this goal is by creating a culture that is Bold, Accountable, Empowered and Fun. Bold represents their determination to approach Every situation with dynamic, innovative thinking. Accountable means that they embrace The responsibility they have as a public company which is to deliver value for their shareholders and for their Franchisees while also provide great service and products to our restaurant guests.
Empowered says that we empower individuals with control to achieve their goals whether that person is their franchisee, their supplier and restaurant guest. And Fun exclaims that they work as a team and strive to make every Burger King worldwide – more than 11,800 restaurants, their field teams and Restaurant Support Centers – a place where people love coming to work every day. Burger King ensure our culture of Bold, Accountable, Empowered and Fun is instilled throughout the organization. It is built into Burger King’s Business plan, and is einforced in their training and development programs, it is woven throughout the code of ethics. Cultural effect; On Burger King menu: Have it your way BURGER King UAE today changed the face of fast food in the UAE with the launch of their new campaign ‘Have It Your Way. ‘ Recognizing that consumer’s eating habits have changed and called for more variety is the basis of BURGER King’s campaign. Globalization has become a part of the corporate identity, however as globalization does have its limitations, Burger King has applied a combination of applying global ideas customized to a local culture.
An innovative menu along with a variety of options for portion size, cooking methods to provide a healthier choice. BURGER King’s new development is set to become a hit with consumers across the region. So why not head on down to BURGER King to Have It Your Way! Commenting on the campaign, Mr. Yasser Abdel Azim, Marketing Manager, BURGER King UAE said, “We pride ourselves at BURGER King on providing an exciting and ever-growing menu and the ‘Have It Your Way! ‘ campaign is a further extension of our commitment to providing the best for our loyal consumers. “
Burger King Middle East is managed by Hana International Company Ltd. and operates more than 120 restaurants around the region. There are many variations that come with the franchisees of Burger King In the Middle East, all Burger King Corporation’s pure beef and chicken patties are 100% Halal and the vegetables used in Burger King products are fresh and locally sourced. Burger King took in consideration the diverse culture in which it operates thus it offered the “Have It your way” whopper where each customer can choose the combination they want, based on personal tastes, and to their satisfaction. Have it your way” is internationally applied in the world as well as in the Middle East. “Have it your way” strategy is considered to be common for all Burger King branches Drinks and alcohol Burger King has even begun to sell beer at its Burger King Whopper Bar limited service concept restaurants in Germany, Miami, New York, and Los Angeles in 2010. The company started selling products from SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch, including Budweiser, Bud Lite, and Miller Lite in aluminum bottles designed to maintain temperature.
The move, designed to target the important 30-and-under demographic, has been called risky by industry analysts because the company is known as a fast food purveyor, and a wholesome family environment and not as an alcoholic beverages seller. Other industry consultants have disagreed with the assessment, believing that the move is timely because the company is growing with its aging customer base. Burger King is known as a corporation that doesn’t offer alcohol especially in the Middle East. The beverage menu offers varieties of drinks and beverages from soft drinks, Burger King shakes, coffee and tea.
But lately Burger King added beer to the drinks menu thus customizing their menu for countries such as Miami, New York and Los Angeles to meet the client culture needs and to target a more wider target market especially in countries were alcohol is permitted. In the Middle East the beverage menu stayed the same and they didn’t feature the option since in the middle east such as Qatar, Bahrain , Saudi Arabia and united Arab emirates alcohol is Haram ‘‘not accepted in their religion and beliefs’’ thus is not welcomed by their culture.
Halal menu HALAL is an important concept and practice in Islam. The guidelines for producing and consuming Halal foods are outlined in the Quran and in the Hadiths of the Prophet (PBUH). Unfortunately, there is no consensus on Standard Procedures of producing the Halal meat that could be agreed upon and followed by all Muslims all over the world. Each Muslim country has its own guidelines on the issue, if any. Most Muslim countries, however, require a Halal certificate to accompany any meat shipment from outside sources to their countries.
The certificate must come from a recognized Islamic organization stating that the food was produced according to the Islamic Shariah under the supervision of the organization and that there is no pork or suspicious ingredients in the food. All Burger King® products are processed and certified in Islamic Way of HALAL in the middle east . All meat products come from Australia where Islamic Quality Controllers supervise our manufacturing plant, and all chicken products come from Saudi Arabia. Quality Control personnel of the Dubai and Abu Dhabi Municipality certify product shipments.
Burger King operating in the Middle East and especially in Muslim countries such as United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain is customizing the restaurant decoration by advertising through a sign mentioning that all meat and poultry product offered are halal. In Lebanon , some branches put the Halal sign some others do not depending on the target market they are trying to attract and depending on the location for example in hamra and Alay branches , the sign halal is present because most of the client there are Muslims. In other places such as jounieh and kaslik the Halal sign is not advertised.
On Advertisement customization During the Ramadan season, burger King launched a specialized billboard advertisement for the Middle East. A number of agencies have been invited to pitch, including the incumbent, Dubai-based Tonic Communications. It is not known which other agencies are involved. The Burger King brand in the Middle East and North Africa is managed by HANA International a spokesman for which confirmed that the review was taKing place. HANA International (subsidiary of Olayan) operates more than 250 restaurants around the region through local franchisees in the Gulf, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Iraq.
The company is part of the Saudi Arabia-based Olayan Group. Tonic has held the account for a number of years and it is understood that it is Burger King’s policy regionally to pitch every three years. The company’s public relations account is held by Headline PR. At a global level, last month Burger King said it was on the hunt for an advertising agency after splitting from lead agency Crispin Porter + Bogusly after more than seven years together. The move followed the fast food giant’s acquisition by 3G Capital for $3. 26 billion in September last year, which preceded a global shake-up in the chain’s marketing department.
In a statement, the company said Burger King and Crispin Porter + Bogusly had enjoyed a tremendously successful relationship, resulting in “countless innovative and engaging campaigns for the Burger King brand. On Decoration Differentiation and Common Points III. Methodology To understand whether burger king in the Middle-East region operates differently than their Western counterparts we have provided some research via a questionnaire to show that this is in fact true as far as the menu,service and decoration in some areas is concerned.
However, the procedures, laws and standards are universal An in-depth interview approach will be used to confirm or deny the presence of any cultural implications in the Middle-East. So that each person can answer the questions freely without fear of judgment or hesitation, each interview is one on one, and all participants will be asked the same questions. To be able to see all sides of the issue, participants will be chosen from different levels of the organization. The opinions given will be of descriptive and not quantitative measures, so the research has been summarized into common points of view grouped together.
The questions asked are as following: 1. Can u give us a brief summary about your career path in burger king? The Participants answered as follows: Ms. Rachel Khachan’s Story: First started 2 years ago with a front line position, was a university student . 7 months after starting she was promoted to service expert which is the first level of promotion. After another 8 months she was promoted to supervisor. She finished her BA and was offered a job in the head office as a Customer care officer and she agreed. Ms. Dany Hkayem’s Story: First Started 4 years ago with a front line position, is a university student. yrs after beginning work at burger King she was promoted to service expert which is the first level of promotion. She is now in-line for another promotion as Supervisor. Management takes into consideration her university time-table as she is enrolled in Audiovisual in AUST. Mr. Elias Hokayem’s Story: He first started work as a crew member in 2004, was a university student. Then a year and a half later he was promoted to service expert (first managerial level). Then in 2007 he was promoted to a supervisor which is the second level of promotion.
Another year and a half later he was promoted to Restaurant Manager and was put in charge of many branches of Burger King such as Ashrafieh, Jeita, Jounieh, Dbayeh,…. etc. The Head Office takes into consideration the managers needs as well as their own. For example, they took into consideration Mr. Elias’ Masters time-table and where he is doing it. He is currently enrolled in a Masters Program in international banking and finance law in USEK. 2. When did burger king start to operate in Lebanon, and what is the number of restaurants in Lebanon nowadays? All Participants unanimously stated the same thing:
The Lebanese franchisee is called KING FOOD SAL. , which is based in Lebanon under the management of OLAYAN FOOD SERVICES (KSA). They took the franchise rights to operate in the middle east from Burger King Miami. The first branch was opened in 1999 on the jal el dib Highway. Nowadays we have 20 branches in Lebanon alone and 2 more will be openend by the end of the year. 3. How do you deal with the inter-cultural differences between these customers, as to service and to problem solving? The participants in the interview had the following inputs: It’s not so much about different culture as different mentalities.
Not all customers have an idea about Burger King about fast food or the type of service. Sometimes they don’t have an idea about the standards of eating for example bacteria and food poisoning. Especially in fast food you have to be very careful about what you serve and how it is prepared especially since we serve fish, meat and poultry. You have all kinds of food poisoning. Not many people understand that fast food is probably more secure than most dine-in restaurants, because they take all the precautions to protect themselves. If one branch has a poisoning scare then all 20 branches will suffer, because it’s all about reputation.
In one case, there was an incident with a restaurant called Jack-In-The-Box Burger in America. Actually it was their Supplier who had a problem with the meat, which turned out to be contaminated. Food poisoning spread throughout all its branches which led to their closing for a long period of time. Now it is still open but is not doing anywhere near the profits it was making before the outbreak. All in all it is a reputation, once it is tarnished it can never turn back the hands of time. This is true especially in Lebanon where the reputation of the company can make or break it.
The first impression the customers have of Burger King is that it is a multinational organization that originated from America. The second impression is the kind of food they serve. The burger they serve at home or the burgers served in Lebanese restaurants is a totally different burger than what is served in a fast food restaurant. The Lebanese people are used to spreading a meal on the table with Mezza and appetizers when they dine out. They don’t just order a platter for each individual they are used to a variety of dishes shared by all and having alcoholic drinks available.
At burger King alcohol is not served for one main reason which is that our main target customer are kids. Alcohol is also not part of the image we project to the market. We introduced the meal concept just like McDonald’s introduced it. Burger King has been in Lebanon for 12 years now from when our first branch opened in 1999 on the Jal el dib highway. Even After all this time customers are still asking if they can have fries inside of their burgers, and where do they fill their drinks because they are not used to self-service and expect the cup to be filled. Can you tell me what Mezza you have.
What we do is explain to the customer the idea of fast food to the customer, that our service system is self service. The Lebanese are very easy-going but Dubai for instance is much more easy-going because they have more interaction with multinational companies. The Lebanese when faced with a new concept adjust and adapt very quickly. In Lebanon we encounter a variety of nationalities especially in the summer it gets crowded with Western cultures and Eastern cultures alike. 4. What are the factors that reflect your inter-cultural preferences, for example kind of food, decoration, employees customers relationships?
The participants of the interview said the following: When you order a “Whopper” all around the world it should be the same. If you are asking about the ingredients itself, it depends on the franchisee. For instance if the issue of the ingredients being “Halal” had implications on whether or not it would attract the customer then yes they would advertise “Halal” and not use ingredients that were not “Halal”. Also if they want to attract a certain target market which has issues of the meat being “Halal” they would tackle that issue.
Different franchisee have different Suppliers, Burger King does not enforce a certain supplier but they enforce certain standards from their suppliers. Burger King suggests different suppliers and the franchisee picks one that best suits there needs. So in order to tackle this type of issue they decentralize the management for each region. For example Lebanon does not have the same menu as Kuwait, and Lebanon does not have the same menu as Egypt. All of these areas are in the same region but they already have a differentiated menu. The market served should be taken into consideration.
A lot of new items tested in Lebanon did not find success here in Lebanon but has found success in other countries of the Middle east. In Lebanon we may find all nationalities but our main market is the Lebanese market, so we have to target them, and serve their needs. Burger King has its own environment where everyone can come and relax take a meal then continue their day. The customer can come and relax with their friends, it can be a meeting point for customers. Our main target is the young generation who are still studying, the children with birthday parties are separated from the young adults so they each have their own space.
Burger King is for families, and for business people. When it comes to training for customer service we have DVDs and CDs that we use for training our staff on customer service. These training implements are used internationally by all Burger King franchisees. But here in Lebanon the customer needs to feel appreciated more than any other customer. If he is a regular the cashiers must recognize him and know his order before hand, or he will just choose another restaurant, because we are not differentiating him. The Lebanese customer will always be a bit on the spoiled side because he always needs to be special.
Our company motto is to “have it your way”, so that sums up our customer service strategy although in the Lebanese society they will stretch its meaning to encompass a great deal of “ways” in other countries where fast food is known and recognized. 5. Do you have employees coming from different cultures in this branch and in Lebanon in general? The participants unanimously stated that: No, there is a policy where they only recruit Lebanese employees for all job levels. The only job position available for non Lebanese is the cleaning of the bathrooms.
It is like this because the founder Mr. Bechara Kallasi decided on this to reduce the unemployment rate in Lebanon and to encourage students to work their way through university. Also he found that in the Lebanese culture the Lebanese people are most comfortable being served by those of their own nationality rather than someone of a different nationality. We serve a variety of markets, for example high school students, university students, children, elderly. People from all walks of life come to Burger King 6. On special occasions like Easter lent and Ramadan does the menu change?
The menu does not change but they do promotions for example on Easter lent they have fish promotions and in Ramadan they open extra hours into the night as well as give a special offer. We have orphans who come in Ramadan especially in the Rouache branch who benefit from the special discounts. 7. What about the ingredients for the food? The Lebanese franchise is called KING FOOD SAL. , which is based in Lebanon under the management of OLAYAN FOOD SERVICES (KSA). They took the franchise rights to operate in the middle east from Burger King Miami.
When you operate in the Middles east you have to make sure that you target market know that the ingredients you use are Halal. So they use only Beef and not Pork, their supplier is from Saudi Arabia so there is no doubt that it is in fact Halal. Wherever we feel there is a need to put a signboard stating “Halal” on the counter,in the decoration, advertisements, or on the menu we put it. For example in our branches in Tripoli, Saida, Jnah, Raousheh, where it is important to the majority of the customers. We get our vegetables from a supplier in Zahle called alpha green.
They have standards in the contract that they have agreed upon and they use Burger King’s standards worldwide. 8. Are the employees promotion steps an international standard or is it regional? The steps to promotion is an international standard. Upper management decides whether the employee gets promoted or not. They start as crew members-manual labor, then when they show that they are qualified to be promoted they become a service expert and are in charge of training crew members old and new, supervision of a shift either kitchen or counter shift.
The next step is becoming a supervisor and they have all the responsibilities of a service expert in addition to paperwork. Then Assistant restaurant manager and finally Restaurant manager. The operation team of every branch is made up of : A service expert A supervisor An asst. restaurant manager and a restaurant manager. other than that we have the area managers responsible for more than one restaurant lead manager more responsibilities operation-wise assistant operation manager responsible for all the stores and coordinates with the lead managers operations manager link between the head office and the operations. raining team formed from training coordinator who has an asst senior field trainer training coordinator senior field trainers 4 field trainers responsible for training managers. HR is outsourced from a franchise of Burger King called the Kallasy Group they recruit only, they are not in charge of promoting the employees or training them. The operation excellence specialist (OES) is in charge of making flash visits to other branches to ensure that the branch is operating according to Burger King standards in terms of operation, cleanliness, and service.
The OES would be someone from a different region not from the same nation. He is like an external operations auditor. 9. How does the political situation affect sales and work? No politics, religion or racism is to discussed in their shift as long as they are in their uniform. The political situation does not seem to be affecting our operations because the situation has been unstable for a long time and throughout we have opened 20 branches and we are undergoing the opening of the 2sd branch of Saida and Sour. 10. Which Labor Law is applicable in the Burger King?
The Lebanese Labor Law is applicable, because you can not apply international standards to a national franchise. For example the minimum wage of Lebanon is applicable in Burger King Lebanese branches. Minimum wage is applied to all new entries. No matter if he has experience or not. The experience he has will help him get promoted faster but he starts from minimum wage. Burger King does not recruit managers they promote them and train them to the Burger King standards. 11. Is there an open line of communication in Burger King? If an employee has anything to discuss or an innovative idea he wishes to share with the manager.
He discusses it with his manager and not with the head office. If the operation managers needs any information he can gather it from the front line directly, or get it from the branch manager. But in the branch operations there is an open door policy for employees to the branch management. IV. Findings and discussion: A determination for excellence drives the people at Burger King to overcome inter-cultural differences. A chain of small steps for customer recognition and respect played a long way for reaching an image of good quality and service.
Using different interdependent factors the organization was able to penetrate easily into the MEA and the GCC regions. The understanding of these two cultures gave Burger King an edge to control bigger market shares. By uncovering the nature of things, one is able to determine the tool that digs out the right treasure. People in nature are sentimental and for a long time businesses were able to attract consumers by tickling their emotional sensitivity. It might sound manipulative but corporations use stimuli to draw people’s attention rather than concentrating on quality and benefit.
The degree to which companies understand the effect of there actions create a seamless chain of strategic decisions that alters their market positioning. Burger King made it through, and while spreading all over the face of the planet it kept its promise for excellent atmosphere, an outstanding service, quality food, and customer care. The focus shed on customer value and loyalty left Burger King with a competitive advantage based on market research and cultural intelligence. Furthermore, we will discuss the strategies Burger King uses to remain a class leader in fast food chain restaurants in the region.
There are three different strategies Burger King mainly uses to keep customer loyalty and service in high standards. Although Burger King doesn’t change the nature of its service, Burger King makes it up by menu variation from place to place and even a time to another. Burger King tends to introduce new variation of meals constantly in different places, and according to the customer’s taste and preference. No doubt, the culture of a nation influences the consuming behavior of its members. By introducing meals compatible with the national cuisine, Burger King is able to entice the appetite of people within that culture.
Burger King tries a variety of food products using different unprecedented ingredients and present to the public. Naturally, peoples’ reaction differentiates and plays a vital part on determining the continuity of an innovative meal or not. People –although coming from similar culture or background- differentiate, to an extent, in their consumption choice. It is with no doubt that some products fail to reach the market simply because early adopters did not recommend it to the public, and in a culture as the MEA and GCC people seem to care what other people think, and more importantly what key people have to say about a new fashion.
Therefore Burger King uses the strategy of “testing out the water”, where they introduce an innovative idea represented in a meal, an added value, a side intro, or a promotion and test peoples early reaction to it. The majority of customers provide their feedback on first contact with a product or service, yet with food and beverage products, it takes the sense of taste to come up with the right decision. When it comes to food and beverage items people do not only perceive their value from tasting the product, but rather from many distinct senses.
The smell of a meal is as important to a diner as its taste, as well as the presentation technique the physical appearance of the object. Since people are getting more indulgent with the different lifestyles choices out there, they tend to visualize their surrounding from a one eyed monocular, that is not only subjective and personal but also predetermined and precise. Under the same reason, people create an image, a sent, or a taste in their minds before they perceive the actual object. Peoples’ preference takes them far enough in considering the new product being introduced by the ambiance and service of the seller.
The place and the nature of the space one is dinning in affect their appetite deeply, and accommodated with the service provided by the seller a holistic idea forms in the minds of consumers. Burger King understands all the elements that play a part in customer’s decision for future consumption, and try a variety of combinations between the elements to create the perfect end-product were a diner can enjoy his/her meal. As mentioned earlier, a new product success determined by the decision customers make on whether this product is preferable or not.
Burger King acknowledges this fact and would not hesitate to introduce a new meal in new or well-established markets; the idea is to observe the behavior of the adopters and their feedback. Many times the product fail to reach the market and decline on its initiation stage, yet Burger King frustration is far from obtained, on the contrary, Burger King lunches several innovative products on different occasions, and although many –if not the majority- fail, Burger King believes that what is important is customers appreciation and acknowledgement of Burger King dedication to customer satisfaction.
In different occasions, Burger King developed a new product and with minimum promotional campaigns introduces it into the market. The very idea of something new on the menu of Burger King seems to attract a substantial percentage of Burger King’s customers. Yet the success of the product is a different story. Early adopters usually try the product once and never go back to it even if the product is met by great acceptance from the public; it is the late adopters that seem to come back for more.
In either ways, the new idea does not linger enough to be a permanent addition to the menu of burger King, but it makes a substantial difference considering customers’ perception of Burger King. Especially when it comes to new cultures where the idea of a fast food restaurant with “self-service” concept might sound odd and bazaar for some, by providing new culture resembling products, customers feel closer to Burger King’s ways of doing business. For example the issue of Halal meat in the MEA and GCC countries, where people are concerned with the way their meat is being slaughtered.
Due to religious reasons “Islam” customers demand the meat products provided in any restaurant to be Halal and conforms to the Islamic Sharea of killing animals. This too is acknowledged by Burger King’s franchise where they bring meat from farms that follows the Islamic way of slaughter. As mentioned in the interview conducted with the customer service expert, Burger King Lebanon tried to introduce different sandwiches into the Lebanese markets, some are similar to those provided in Egypt and Kuwait, countries that are supposed to be similar in culture with Lebanon, yet they failed.
The same product that survived the regional market is not necessarily applicable to all markets within the region simply because of cultural differences. Burger King encourages the freedom of customers “have it your way” and allows them to experiment new products through promotional prices. The idea is to get customers from different culture familiar with Burger King’s way. This tendency to create the perfect atmosphere for customers is clear in all personnel we came in contact with.
While creating a comfortable atmosphere for everyone, employees keep the perfect smile always, showing a welcoming face at all times. We also got out from the interview that Burger King customer policy seems to be more tolerant than other fast food chain restaurant, where the norm is “give what the customer wants” and always “keep customer happy”. The idea is to show diners a good time from the moment he/she walks in up until the time they leave, providing joyous moments for customers to recall and wanting to come back.
Burger King, at first enters a new market with huge marketing and promotional campaigns to overpower the noise caused by competitors. No matter how exotic the culture might seems to the western culture –that is that of Burger King- it uses its original business model as is back in Miami with no minute changes in the operation process. The ability to do so requires huge stress on training expatriates and new employees. The message seems to reach lower level employees through those that proceeded them.
Burger King use low-level employees and first liners to train their fellow workers, rather than a high-level manager. The idea is to keep the training process as real and close to the ground as possible. Through observation and appraisals, managers are able to pick key employees who are able to provide training seminars and sessions to new comers and elevate them along the responsibility line to handle the readability of new recruits. Burger King’s idea of doing business in different cultures lies in customer value and appreciation.
For example in Lebanon -although it is not an international standard- the franchise tend to employ only Lebanese nationals, since they know that Lebanese diners prefer to deal with Lebanese first-liners. If you go to any Burger King in the region you would find employees from different nationalities “especially far eastern” serving at the food chains. This detection of cultural difference is well recognized by Burger King’s Lebanon. At the same time, Burger King Lebanon understands the nature of the country and how acceptable of the western way of living
Lebanese could be, especially with the young population. As mentioned earlier in the discussion, that Burger King failed to introduce food products in the Lebanese markets that were successful in other regional markets. Yet, Burger King understood that the way to tackle the cultural differences in Lebanon lies in the very nature of Lebanese people. Their free spirit and pursuit for happiness seemed compatible with the ambiance Burger King provides to its diners.
And unlike any other Burger King in the world, customer service here in Lebanon seems to be more personalized, where cashiers tend to get familiar with regular customers and provide them with special treatments. While a fast food chain restaurant might sound a mundane, and rather a dull idea a place like Europe for example, in the MEA, GCC and the far east the very idea of self service and fast food chain restaurants seems to be out of this world. This could be both good and bad marketing wise.
While some people might refuse the idea of fast food restaurants, others not only enjoy it, but also have a sense of curiosity and –after the first time- an interest to go back again, and enjoy this modern easier way of dinning. Although the delivery service might fall short in some places, due to the mobility problem in Lebanon and lack of clear directions, Burger King encourages people to dine in the restaurant and if they prefer there is always the drive-through service. The third strategy used by Burger King to tackle inter-cultural differences is the restaurant layout.
From decorations to sign placement Burger King tries to show customers a personalized layout following their preferences. For example in Jnah branch in Lebanon you would see the “Halal” sign on the doorway on your way in, while in Jounieh branch for example you would not find the same sign anywhere in the restaurant. Although the meat is Halal anywhere you go in Burger King Lebanon –since it is brought in by the same supplier- the placement of the sign in the restaurant is not necessary in all zones of the country.
Decoration also extend to national and religious occasions such as Ramadan and Easter. Accompanied by special offers on such occasions (such as the Sohor and Easter menus) they also add decorations that would represent the nature of the occasion, similar to those presented around the world around the New Year’s evening. V. Recommendations and conclusion: Burger King seems to have conquered markets it penetrated through appreciating customer service and quality control.
Yet several ingredients are messing to overpower other fast food chains around the world. From marketing campaigns to attracting new segments and home delivery, Burger King might gain more market shares and dominate further regions. References: * http://www. burgerking-me. com/qatar/eng/profile01. asp * http://www. ask. com/wiki/listofcountrieswithburgerkingfranchies * http://www. olayan. com * http://wiki. answers. com * http://www. minorityfranchising. om/profiles/BurgerKing. htm * http://www. bk. com * http://www. ameinfo. com/54714. html * http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Burger_King_products * http://halaltransactions. org/halal-articles * http://www. burgerkingme-me. com * http://campaignme. com/2011/04/24/11829/burger-king-reviews-regional-ad-brief/ * http://www. bkmesc. com/photogallery_kuwait. php * http://www. bkmesc. com/photogallery_bklebanon. php * http://www. bkmesc. com/photogallery_qusais. php