Diversification: Fast Food Style

Last week, the Associated Press released a news article about White Castle restaurants selling alcohol. According to the article, there is a White Castle concept restaurant in Indiana that sells wine and beer and it is apparently doing so well that White Castle is considering expanding wine and beer to its two other concept restaurants, one of which will be in Tennessee.

But White Castle isn’t the first fast food company to launch alcohol sales. Earlier this year Burger King, and Sonic both added alcohol to select locations in Florida. American owned fast food businesses have been doing this for years in other countries, and it has now spread to the states.

Fast food has always been dominated by the golden arches of McDonald’s; which continues to advertise and cater to children. This has been a successful push for McDonald’s and they have shown no signs of changing their focus anytime soon. Burger King, Sonic and now White Castle have realized this is a battle they cannot win and are spending their efforts targeting an older audience. For the past few years, each business has spent time and money shifting their focus to adults

  • Though White Castle didn’t finance Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, they did embrace the movie by having collectible Harold and Kumar cups at all of their locations during the film’s release. It marks the first time an R-rated comedy is advertised on fast food containers.
  • Burger King had “The King” in commercials which was meant to target males 18 – 35. Earlier this year, Burger King announced plans to shift the focus of marketing toward health conscious mothers.
  • Sonic has a “Happy Hour” that allows customers to receive half-price fountain drinks and real fruit slushes.

Business leaders may want to take a good look at what these three fast food chains are doing. By adding beer and wine to their menus, these restaurants are strengthening their commitment to their target audience while adding a new stream of revenue. In a time where businesses are trying to find additional income producing outlets, White Castle, Burger King and Sonic may have found a simple, easy way to accomplish this. Are there ways your industry can increase income by adding one simple concept that already fits into your business model? Working in the banking industry, we are currently challenged to find new ways to retain current customers and expand our services to increase customer loyalty and income. Since our main audience is business owners, we have branched out to offer payroll options and specialized lending options. Though the payroll option has not picked up much steam, our lending options have definitely allowed us to stand out with business owners.

But enough about silly banking, let’s get back to the main point: Will adding booze increase sales and create a new buzz for these fast food burger joints? If these restaurants offer beer at locations near you, will you frequent them more? I wonder if a sonic car hop will ask to see my id when I purchase a nice Merlot with my cheddar peppers?

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