As mentioned earlier in part 1.3, I will be using Porter’s Five Forces to analyse the external environment to obtain a comprehensive understanding of a given industry. My focus here will be the fast food industry. BK is my chosen company to evaluate the effect of globalisation has upon fast food industry. The analysis will be done in four areas as below and there may be some overlapping of points as they can be interrelated.
Section 3.1 – Threat of new entrants
Section 3.2 – Threat of substitutes & Bargaining power of customers
Section 3.3 – Bargaining power of supplier
Section 3.4 – Rivalry among existing competitors
To aid understanding in this analysis, charts and diagrams drawn using Microsoft Excel is provided.
3.1 Threat of new entrants
There are six major sources identified as barriers to a market entry which include economies of scale, product differentiation, capital requirement, switching cost, access to channels of distribution and government policy (Porter, 1980). All these have had impact on BK especially as from the point of view of globalisation.
3.1.1 Capital Requirement
In my observation, it is very possible to open one or two outlets but to globally have a chain of outlets with the same branding requires tremendous capital requirements.
Thus globalisation has directly impacted BK in the way it structured its business model through franchising. BK could afford to do so as with agreements such as US- Canada Free Trade Agreement and North American Free Trade Agreement (Reference for Business, 2010). BK took advantage of the relative free flow of resources under globalisation to expand globally.
Franchising is a relative low cost and low risk business model. Most of the US franchisors often use this method to enter a new market with diverse economical, cultural and political environment (Alon, 2006). For instance, 88% of BK’s restaurants worldwide are franchised in fiscal 2009, contributing to $412.5 millions of total revenue globally (Burger King Holdings Inc., 2009). Franchising enables the business to develop in an unfamiliar market relatively quickly on a larger scale, allows the use of local partners who are familiar with local environment and also to create a standardised, global brand image, generating marketing economies of scale (McDonald et al., 2002). Charts below will provide further information on BK’s franchise restaurants.
Chart 1: Percentage of BK’s Franchise Restaurants and Company Restaurants Worldwide ( Burger King Holdings Inc.,2009; SEC Info, 2007)
Chart 2: Revenue Breakdown From BK’s Total Revenue Worldwide (Burger King Holdings Inc., 2009)
However with globalisation, competition is globalised and relentless. McDonald’s is actually BK’s largest competitor as it provides better menu variety with more valuable and affordable prices (CNN.com, 2009), biting into BK’s revenue by securing a larger market share. McDonald’s is also more a pioneer compared to BK because it opened its first restaurant in 1940 (Spiritus-temporis.com, 2005) compared to BK with its first restaurant in 1954 (WikiAnswers, 2010).
Being a pioneer, McDonald’s has many advantages which includes entrenchment of position in consumers’ minds, creating higher thresholds for later entrants in terms of quality, advertising and distribution support, enjoys long-term market share advantages and reputation benefits (Gass et al.,2003). It is the effect of globalisation where McDonald’s has built around 32,000 outlets in more than 117 countries (McDonald’s Corporation, 2010). With its expansion into international markets, the company is famous throughout the world and is the leader in this industry followed by BK only at second place. The difference in number of outlets worldwide which also translates into sales volume differences between these two fast food chain can be seen clearly in the diagrams below.
Chart 3: The total number of restaurants worldwide for BK and McDonald’s. ( Burger King Holdings Inc.,2009; McDonald’s Corporation, 2009)
Chart 4: Comparison of Sales Revenues Between BK and McDonald’s (Burger King Holdings Inc., 2009, McDonald’s Corporation 2007; 2009, SEC Info, 2007)
Based on the charts, McDonald’s is approximately 3 times larger than BK in terms of outlet and 10 times larger in terms of sales revenues.
Substantial capital is also needed in terms of advertising to build up BK’s brand. The advertising cost of McDonald’s is approximately 8 times higher than BK thus creating a higher barrier entry when BK’s brand name is lacking compared to McDonald’s. To compete with McDonald’s, BK needs more capital to increase its advertising as it is very much needed in globalisation to introduce BK in new markets and building up its image that they may otherwise not known about (Coulter, 2001). To ease comparison of the advertising cost, it is illustrated in chart below.
Chart 5: Advertising cost of BK compared to McDonald’s (Burger King Holdings Inc., 2009; SEC Info, 2007; McDonald’s Corporation, 2007;2009)
With these type of cost outlays, for other competitors to come into the same scale as these two companies is extremely daunting indeed, thus the threat of entrants is low, though for smaller players is possible to find niches that are under or not exploited as yet. Luckily the advertising costs have resulted in branding, which builds a better image globally and flows ultimately into higher sales and profitabililty.
Table below provides Best Global Brand Ranking 2009 highlighting few of BK’s major competitors and where BK succeeded in positioning its brand among top 100 in year 2009.
country of origin
2009 brand value ($m)
Table 1: Best Global Brand Ranking 2009 (Interbrand, 2009)
It is clear that BK lags behind McDonald’s though in many ways this is to be expected given its much lower advertising cost outlays, which besides outlet costs, form a significant barrier of entry as mentioned earlier.
3.1.2 Product Differentiation
With globalisation, BK differentiates itself from other fast food giants by acknowledging culture and country specific needs. For instances, Pork-based Bulgogi Burgers are offered in korea and the ultra-spicy Rendang Double in Singapore (Wikipedia, 2010).
Picture 1: Pork based Bulgogi Burger Picture 2: Rendang Double
(flickr.com, 2008 ) (therealnurulle.blogspot.com, 2010)
BK also keeps its promise of “Have it your way” with customers having 221184 possible ways of ordering a Whopper meal (Swabey, 2007). This will help to ease its penetration into new market with different local conditions. BK’s response to globalisation is obviously to cater to local tastes, as the pictures above testify. Another response to globalisation has been the move towards becoming more healthy by offering healthier menu with less salt and also with its product innovation to provide food with higher nutrition contents. At all times, BK is trying to differentiate itself to meet customers’ demands. Further details regarding food offerings will be mentioned in later part.
3.2 Threat of Substitutes and Bargaining Power of Customers
Various global fast food chains have successfully make inroads in diverse market settings around the world (Watson, 2006). These restaurants stand the most conspicuous symbol of globalisation and modernity in countries worldwide (Wilk, 2006). Hence, they are often viewed as the cutting edge of emerging global consumer culture which have caused societies worldwide to become increasingly homogeneous and deterritorialised (Friedman, 2000).
Although the expansion of Western quick-service eateries outside America and Europe has done much to transform established notions of service, taste and lifestyle (Schlosser et al., 2001), their spread has also given rise to rival domestic chains whose extensive knowledge of local preferences offers real advantages in attracting and retaining customers (Matejowsky, 2008). It is the strong bargaining power of customers which intensify the competition among various food chains with more substitutes available. To deal with these forces on a global basis, BK resorted to differentiate itself through innovative marketing and menu items.
3.2.1 Innovative Marketing
BK has adopted a strategy which helps to differentiate them from their competitors. The company appointed TMP Worldwide Advertising & Communications to create an exclusive company-wide employer branding campaign based on the concept ‘Fun with a Future’ which concentrates on brand recognition, employee engagement and delivering on brand promise. BK decided to differentiate itself through its product and people with its employee as ‘brand ambassador’ where all employees at all levels are linked to the company brand featuring in BK’s advertisements and posters (Business and Finance Week, 2008). This is in line with the concept of globalisation where people of different races, culture and family background will have a common global identification as BK’s brand ambassador. Pictures below feature BK employees who are of different races and cultures.
Picture 3: Employees of BK in Tokyo Picture 4: Employees of BK in U.S. (associatedcontent.com, 2010) (farsons.com, 2010)
BK also uses a creative marketing strategy by building an edgy, hip image with young men, who are targeted consumers (Jargon, 2006). For instance, in November 2006, BK began offering BK Xbox and Xbox 360 games with their value meals. After one month, 20 million of BK Xbox games had been sold. The games could only be bought with a value meal which means that BK attracted a lot of customers with this promotion, earning a nice profit from it. Comparing with BK, McDonald’s on the other hand only places Nintendo mascot toys in their Happy Meals (Mattie, 2007). A picture of both BK Xbox and McDonald’s Nintendo toys can be seen below.
Picture 5: Burger King Xbox Picture 6: McDonald’s Nintendo Toy ( blogs.ft.com, 2006) (toadcastle.net, 2006)
The successfulness of BK’s innovative marketing was already proven in 1999 in a TV campaign where Whopper was proclaimed as “America’s Favourite Burger”. That claim was based on the result of a research where 700 consumers were asked to name their favourite burger. 33% of them picked Whopper and only 12% chose McDonald’s Big Mac (Cebrzynski, 1999). Having innovative marketing is a response to the threat of substitutes and bargaining power of customers as BK tries to embed itself on consumer consciousness globally.
3.2.2 Menu Options and Changes
BK tries to reach out more customers through its menu to reduce threat of substitutes, which of course with globalisation is a full time and relentless force. As mentioned in part 3.1, health consciousness was rising among people with the obesity crisis hitting globally. It was found that United States tops the hierarchy for obesity with 30.6%, followed by Mexico and United Kingdom with 24.2% and 23% (NationMaster.com, 2010). Even though BK tries to blunt customers’ bargaining power and the threat of substitutes through aggressive marketing as seen above, in truth they are obviously much stronger with no switching cost.
Thus a response from BK is to try to be almost all things to customers. For instance, provide healthier food options. The company in its social responsibility statement promises to work with its trained chefs and nutritionist to develop new menu options that meet customer’s nutritional needs globally (Burger King Holdings Inc., 2010a). BK’s efforts could be seen when it unveiled a healthy eating adaptation of its “Have It Your Way” strategy where posters in restaurants tell customers how to order a low carbohydrate, low fat and low calorie meal (Walker, 2004). The famous Whopper can also be served without the bun, mayonnaise and ketchup (MacArthur, 2004). BK also launched a new salad line offering shrimp and sirloin steak with grilled peppers and onions on it (Walker, 2004). Besides, health drive was initiated by BK by reducing salt and fat content in burgers and fries.
Even children are targeted where children’s menu also comes with a choice of apples or grapes, milk or fruit juice (Forte, 2006). In 2008, BK’s kids meal underwent makeover with the introduction of apple fries as part of the meal (Burger King Holdings Inc., 2010b). A list of BK’s healthier options with their calorie contents are provided in Appendix 3. Pictures below show two healthy options from BK.
Picture 7: Kids meal with Apple Fries Picture 8: Bunless Whopper (fastfood.ocregister.com, 2009) (hungry-girl.com, 2010)
In addition, BK also later launched its “Joe” Coffee. This made-to-order coffee processed from 100% Arabica coffee beans (The Franchise Mall, 2005). This is actually a response to global economic crisis where it was found that consumers were trading down from more expensive coffee such as starbucks into lower ranking choices, providing a perfect option for BK. Thus even though globally the economic situation was dire, for instance it was found that 2009’s world economic growth rate was only half percent (International Monetary Fund, 2009). BK found a new market segment to exploit to further reduce the threat of substitutes and bargaining power of customers. Latest initiatives include where in February year 2010, BK decided to replace its own coffee brand “BK Joe” with “Seattle’s Best Coffee”, a brand owned by Starbucks to increase falling sales by improving its product offerings (Tice, 2010). Pictures below show BK’s “Joe Coffee” and its replacement, Seattle’s Best Coffee.
Picture 9: BK Joe Coffee (ebay.com, 2010) Picture 10: Seattle’s Best Coffee (myalohavibe.com, 2010)
BK also imitated a McDonald’s breakfast item. BK’s Breakfast Muffin Sandwich was promoted through an advertisement where a cleverly disguised BK breaks into McDonald’s Headquarters to steal the Top Secret Blueprints for the Sausage McMuffin With Egg (Dave, 2010). Picture below shows the contrast between the two breakfast offering from McDonald’s and BK.
Picture 11: McDonald’s Sausage McMuffin with Egg Vs BK’s breakfast Muffin (davescupboard.blogspot.com, 2010)
It is not just menu changes were offered but also menu pricing as well. To meet the changing economic conditions as an impact of global recession, BK also announced that it will offer $1 double cheeseburger in order to gain market share back from McDonald’s (Johnson, 2007). This has cause BK’s franchisees to file a law suit challenging BK’s right to dictate maximum prices as the product’s costs is at least $1.10 per sandwich (Glover, 2009). Thus even though BK tries to satisfy customers other stakeholders may not be happy, showing the complexities in managing relationships in the era of globalisation. Further in many ways, as seen in breakfast, and even in pricing, since the RM $1 cheeseburger, BK is imitating McDonald’s.
3.3 Bargaining power of suppliers
With globalisation, BK is required to maintain the quality of services in its restaurants worldwide. As a measure of quality control, BK will evaluate before approving the existing or potential manufacturers and distributors of food, packaging and equipment products used in the restaurants. Evaluation is done based on their delivery, timeliness and financial conditions. To ensure consistency, franchises are required to purchase their products from approved suppliers. (Burger King Holdings Inc., 2009).
3.3.1 Purchasing Power of BK
Restaurant Services Inc. (RSI), a not-for-profit independent purchasing cooperative leverages purchasing power of the BK system in United States by negotiating the purchase terms for most equipments, food, beverages, toys and paper products used in the restaurants (Burger King Holdings Inc., 2009). RSI currently involves in the negotiation of purchase with BK for more than $3 billion a year in goods and services, managing supply agreements with over 300 suppliers and 27 distributors (Sterlingcommerce, 2009). For company restaurants and franchise restaurants in Canada, a subsidiary of RSI is responsible to purchase the products. However, there is currently no appointed purchasing agent that represents franchisees in other international regions. BK will work closely with their franchisees to implement programs that leverage their global purchasing power and to obtain lower product costs outside the United States and Canada. (Burger King Holdings Inc., 2009). Globalisation has increased the purchasing power of BK and therefore reducing bargaining power of suppliers with the ease of selection of suppliers who meet the company criteria
3.3.2 Suppliers of BK
As a global fast food chain, it is important for BK to maintain its brand name worldwide. The image of the global brand could be destroyed in a day due to globalisation where news travels billion times faster than it used to be in the past. BK was labelled “Murder King” by animal activists forcing the company to implement new policies that are more closely monitor its suppliers. Thus by 2001, there were guidelines that require the egg suppliers’ battery cages to contain two water bottles, allowing the birds to stand upright and be at least 75 square inches (Detweiler, 2001). BK further discourages its suppliers from trimming chickens’ beak and breaking their wings to save packing space when transporting (Detweiler, 2001).
Reports in media of one or more cases of food-borne diseases in one of BK’s restaurant also negatively affect its sales worldwide when being highly publicised (Burger King Holdings Inc., 2009). During an earlier case in year 1997, BK cut off its ties with one of its biggest beef supplier, Hudson Foods Inc. as its beef supplies were contaminated with E.coli..Hudson voluntarily recalled the beef after the severity of E.coli contamination was discovered at its plant in Columbus, leaving some BK restaurants without sufficient beef supply for 24 hours to 48 hours (Papernik et al., 1997).
In fiscal 2000, BK decided to enter into a long term contracts with The Coca-Cola Company and Dr Pepper/Seven-Up Inc to supply all restaurants of BK in United States with their product (Burger King Holdings Inc., 2009). BK prolonged its long term liaison with The Coca-Cola Company as an approved soft drink supplier for its international region covering Greater Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific (PRNewswire, 2003). With the effect of globalisation, consumers in around 200 countries enjoy Coca-Cola products of more than 1 billions servings per day (The Coca-Cola Company, 2010). BK International President believes that with this renewed alliances, Coca-Cola Company, recognised as the world’s best known brand (The Coca-Cola Company, 2010) will help to grow the BK brand rapidly by providing the best burger experience to their consumers in all restaurants globally (PRNewswire, 2003). Getting into alliances with suppliers is a good way to also set up higher barriers of entry.
From my analysis, bargaining power of food suppliers are strong but over soft drinks especially in terms of dealing with companies with strong brand name is weaker. Obviously, the extent to which the other party uses branding and distribution network as leverage globally as well.
Other than external suppliers, internal supplier is also an important piece of puzzle which without, BK’s supplier network would not be complete. Hence, the bargaining power of its employees should not be shoved aside. BK had approximately 41320 employees in its company restaurants, field management offices and global headquarters as at 30th June 2009 (Burger King Holdings Inc., 2009). As mentioned in part 3.2.1, there are diversity of employees with different backgrounds, race, religion and cultures. It is clear that like globalisation, the factors in Porter’s Five Forces are interlinked and do not stand alone.
The success of BK is highly dependent on its ability to attract general managers with necessary competences to be part of the management team to motivate the employees to sustain high service levels and maintain sales growth. The competition for the right employee candidates causes higher payment of wages featuring the high bargaining power of employees (Burger King Holdings Inc., 2009). However, where boundaries between countries became narrower and communication made easier with globalisation, the search for the ‘right’ employee is more efficient and effective through online application, which could perhaps reduce their bargaining power. The selection of employees is important as a wrong choice would lead to negative publicity. In one of the cases, a BK employee in Jacksonville had tried to poison a customer as he was pissed due to his suspension for misconduct (Morbid, 2010). In another case, a Washington State Deputy, Edward Bylsma after discovering a spit on his Whopper ordered from a BK employee decided to sue BK seeking $75,000 of compensation (Ryan, 2010). No doubt with globalisation, these news would definitely spread fast and adversely impact the company’s brand.
Further, since a large portion of outlets are franchised as a result of BK’s decision on this bus model to move globally, employees become even more important as front link assets to keep sales and profits up. With payroll expenses on the increase as seen in the chart below, it is clear that for employees, their bargaining power is, in my opinion, rated medium to high.
Chart 6: Payroll and Employee Benefits for BK ( Burger King Holdings Inc., 2009)
3.4 Rivalry among Existing Competitors
Globalisation has increased the competition among the fast food chain. With various quick service restaurants mushrooming worldwide, other than competing on a national or regional basis, they are competing with each other globally.
As an effect of globalisation causing increases in degree of awareness among consumers, there has been intense competition among the competitors globally to gain market share. Increasing prices of raw material, agitation by social organisations, slow down of U.S economy and also increasing fuel prices has prompt many fast food chain to divert their attention to eastern part of the world especially China ( Naim, 2008). Although globalisation has ease the expansion of fast food chain worldwide with the ease of information transfer and seeking global suppliers, entry into China and other Asian countries still pose logistical and political challenges. As quoted from Martin (1994) in Nation Restaurant’s news “Among the most frustrating obstacles are the scarcity and inordinately high cost of prime locations in most markets as well as the steep tariffs and patchwork of inconsistent regulations that impede imports of commodities and equipment”.
3.4.1 New Geographical Regions and New Ventures
Taking a closer look, even though globalisation has blurred boundaries, there are still differences in cultural issues between United States and other countries resulting in different eating habits of consumers ( Glazer, 2007). From consumer point of view, globalisation has resulted from development of sophisticated media contributing to the creation of a borderless market but it does not mean it is without internal differences or local tastes (Ziedman, 2003). When a company goes global, they are bound to satisfy the demands of local customers. For example in India, cows are sacred and worshipped by the Indians, beef could not be served and the muslims, they could not consume pork (Kulkarni et al., 2009). Hence, it is a must to substitute the beef and pork in the product offerings.
To further compete globally, BK invested in “Whopper Bars”. BK opened their first Whopper Bar in Orlando during spring 2009, and the first in Asia in Singapore during September 2009 (International Wire, 2009). It offers a specialised burger menu with more than 20 toppings (Ruggles, 2010). On 8th February 2010, BK further announced that beer sales will be added at a new unit opening in South Miami. ( Ruggles, 2010). BK changes may not be rapid enough to obtain further market share from McDonald’s but the company has been spending more effort in improving its sales in this global competition ( Anderlini et al., 2010).
Competing on a global scale gives rise to global income streams. This would help BK to sustain the worldwide competition where the profit from a restaurant would balance the loss in another. The pie charts below show the distribution of revenue from different geographical region.
Chart 6: BK’s Geographical Sales from Year 2007-Year 2009 (Burger King Holdings Inc., 2009)
In a way, the company is more dependent on its home market, as showed in the pie chart above where most portion of global stream income is generated. In a recent case in 2009, BK’s advertisement for Texican Whopper burger in Europe had angered the Mexicans where a small wrestler featured in the advertisement was dressed in a cape resembling a Mexican flag. Mexicans have high respect for their flag and therefore could not tolerate such an insult from BK ( The Assiociated Press, 2009). This adverse publicity could have adversely impact its profits. Still, the company had not done unduly badly as seen in the charts below.
Chart 7: Revenue, Gross Profit and Net Profit of BK from Year 2005 – 2009 (Burger King Holdings Inc., 2009, SEC Info, 2007)
It is clear that BK has done well as seen in increasing absolute figures of all sales, gross profit and net profit. A look at gross profit and net profit margin also shows that on a relative basis the company is handling itself well in the world of globalisation.
Chart 8: Gross Profit Margin and Net Profit Margin of BK from Year 2005- 2009 (Burger King Holdings Inc., 2009, SEC Info, 2007)
Even though Gross Profit Margin has been decreasing slightly, its net profit margin has been increasing with a drastic improvement from year 2006 to 2007. This is definitely a good sign.
3.5 Conclusion and Recommendation
Globalisation can be a threat to the company and also it may help its expansion. Being a global brand, BK has a lot benefits which include cost-efficiencies, sharing of resources and ability to attract partners, employees and customers on entering new market. It all depends how the company took opportunities and work towards their goals. Management of globalisation is the key to success and most importantly, BK need to balance between global and local control (Samli, 2008).
The company has retreated back to the US market, which is why the share prices have been sliding back down in recent times as seen below.
Chart 9 : BK’s Share Price Ups and Downs from 2001 till 2010 ( Yahoo Finance, 2010)
Recommendations made to company’s performance are as follows:
Moving In Developing countries, Especially India and China Aggressively: India and China both has a steady high economic growth rates of 8.8% and 10% in 2010 (India Brand Equity Foundation, 2010) and will probably be the major players in the world economy. It is definitely a wise option to expand BK’s growth in these two countries by using local partners, local employees and local ingredients. Furthermore, BK could also offer limited promotions during festive seasons or special events, for instance during Chinese New Year or Deepavali as this will help to attract more customers during that period.
Broader Menu Selection: As mentioned earlier in the project, BK should continuously provide more choices of menu which allow customers to pick from wider choices. This step should be taken to also reduce threat of substitutes from new entries and existing competitors. Its product offerings must also be ensured to meet the local taste. As mentioned by the officials of market research firm of the NPD Group, quick service operators who are expanding their brands outside the United States must customise each unit to meet the specific needs of consumers in the country and region they seek to enter (Glazer, 2007).
Promotions and Advertising: As observed so far, BK’s advertising has been giving positive impact on its sales. Hence, BK should continuously invest in its promotions and advertisement to gain market share. BK could perhaps invite its employees to give their opinion as they are also the “brand ambassadors”. This would allow a fresher and a more creative in flow of idea and to boost the motivation of the employees as they are invited to participate in the company’s program. However, BK should avoid price wars with its competitors ie. McDonald’s as this would pull down the profits of all burger chains. BK should choose to differentiate from its competitors. There is only one winner in cost strategy but there may be more than one winner in differentiation strategy.
Relationships with Franchisees: There has been cases where the franchisees are not happy with the decisions of BK Inc..The most obvious example is the sale of doublecheese burger at $1. BK should strengthen its ties with the franchisees by encouraging them to provide ideas and feedbacks on how to improve sales. When there is a disagreement between them, BK should understand the reason behind and to solve it on a win-win situation. If this could be practised, law suit against BK Inc. could be avoided.
In conclusion, Porter’s Five Forces Analysis that was used to analyse BK’s stand in the industry gives a bird’s eye view of the company and industry globally. Globalisation plays a major role in pushing and shaping the company. The survival of BK is dependent on its ability to adapt to constant changes in business environment due to globalisation. With BK’s effort in improving its performance, it will definitely survive in this field and could perhaps be the number one fast food chain worldwide in the future.
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