Global burger chains add fizz to draw Indian consumers

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Mc Donald’s position as the market leader in burgers may soon get threatened as new international chains such as Wendy’s and Carl’s Jr are seeking revenues through more enticing categories like beer and wine to go with their burgers.

Both the US-based burger icons have decided to include these new beverages in their menus. While Carl’s Jr has tied up with the country’s largest selling beer brand, Kingfisher, Wendy’s is seeking licences to forge partnerships with Indian wine and beer brands.

“Bringing in wine and beer is a new initiative that we have taken for the Indian market. We are trying to get licences for Indian brands in this segment and keep it as affordable as possible. At the same time, we are not a bar but a burger joint,’’ says Jasper Reid, Director, Sierra Nevada, the franchise company for Wendy’s.

With its mascot as a little freckled girl, Wendy’s positioning may not exactly encourage beer and wine drinkers, but the burger brand has decided to tweak its stance specifically for the Indian market.

Since making money is going to be a long haul for these burger chains, adding new beverage categories is likely to shore up its revenues. “We are aware that India is challenging in terms of getting investment returns. But we want to keep the brand as affordable as we can and are looking to bring in good quality Indian beer and wines into our portfolio,’’ added Reid.

However, it was Carl’s Jr which had the first mover advantage when it decided to introduce beer at its first outlet last year.

“The rest of the burger players got a jolt when we introduced beer in our first outlet in India. But since we address an age group of 18-40, we took the decision to bring beer in India having tried it in certain markets in the US and Russia,’’ said Samir Chopra, Group Chairman, Cybiz Corp, the franchise for Carl’s Jr.

Some of the burger chains have experimented in other markets in these new categories as they want to graduate to an all-day casual dining format. “Burgers and beer go hand-in-hand in continental Europe as many QSRs and burger brands like Johnny Rockets are getting into the casual dining space,’’ observes Chopra.

Meanwhile, the second largest burger brand Burger King, which already has it’s ‘Whopper Bars’ in certain markets may also consider entering such categories in future.

Raj Varman, Chief Executive Officer, Burger King India, said: “We are not ruling out entering wine and beer since we have Whopper bars in certain places like Miami in the US.’’