Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. Shake Up Nutrition Police
By George Anderson
If you’re looking for the perfect complement to the 1,420-calorie Monster Burger sold at Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurants, you might want to try one of the company’s new 715-carlorie Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes and Malts.
Using 12 percent butterfat ice cream, not the wimpy 3.5 percent butterfat stuff used in typical shake machines, Hardee’s and Carl’s will deliver thick, delicious tasting drinks
with 33 grams of fat in a 16-ounce container.
“If you get one of these,” Jo Ann Hattner, a nutrition instructor at Stanford Medical School, told USA Today, “make sure and get four straws so you can share it with three friends.”
The new shakes and the Monster Burger might not be so good for your health, but Andy Puzde, chief executive of CKE Restaurants, isn’t looking to shrink waistlines. His goal is
to build the company’s bottom line. “It’s our opinion that these (calorie-laden) products sell better than health-conscious products,” he said.
The new products certainly help differentiate Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. from all the other fast feeders rolling out the salad du jour. Christopher Muller, director of the Center for Multi-Unit Restaurant Management at Orlando’s University of Central Florida said, “The chain has the closest thing to a not-so-wellness menu in the business.”
Moderator’s Comment: Is CKE Restaurants on the right sales and marketing track with its “not-so-wellness menu” strategy? Conversely, do companies that
sell meals (not simply desserts) have a responsibility to also offer healthy foods as a demonstration of community/social responsibility? –
George Anderson – Moderator
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18 Comments on "Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. Shake Up Nutrition Police"
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Perhaps there is additional strategy at work here — risk management. Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. are positioning their menu items as explicitly over-the-top in terms of their caloric and fat content. As such, consumers who purchase these products are arguably taking a greater degree of personal responsibility for their actions when they place their order. Could this play in favor of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. if and when the liability lawsuits are brought against them? We all make choices…
This is product segmentation, to a targeted group of shoppers. And a “reward” approach for you deserve it!!!!
It’s no longer “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to appetites or pocket books. The burger stand at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas offers a $65 hamburger. For that kind of money, it better have lots of flavor. If the calorie-topper sandwiches taste good, they’ll sell. If they don’t, well, there’s always another sandwich just around the corner. Even Subway is getting on the meat wagon with their new Angus Beef sandwich.
While these calorie-laden products may not be for the main-stream consumer, they obviously have a lot of appeal for certain target segments. I would guess young adult males with big appetites and those who want a milk shake that tastes “real” are the targets. If that’s the case, and the sales number are there, then they’ve hit their objective.
On the other hand, the new fruit-bowls and other low-calorie options from Wendy’s and other fast food outlets are doing a great sales and marketing job for the calorie and nutrition-conscious consumers.
Bottom line, this is a strategy that is working for Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. Just a few years ago, CKE was at the edge of a cliff and they’ve managed to turn things around.
Ultimately, the responsibility for diet falls to the consumer, not to the food police or even the restaurants themselves. Let the guests decide if they want the items or not. If the shakes don’t sell, they won’t stay on the menu, period. Same with the other burgers and breakfast items.
I hope we never have correctness be the benchmark of menu design. I think Hardee’s differentiation in its menu choices will be judged by its need for crowd control at the registers. While it may not be my personal choice in lunch, if you look at the littered landscape of low carb, the indulgent areas of cookies and ice cream still seem to have some value. The American consumer will make those menu choices that meet their demands, not follow the direction of what trend is set by the restaurants.
Restaurants do not have a responsibility to sell nutritious meals. They have a responsibility to their investors to separate as much money from the consumer’s pockets as they can, and transfer that into the restaurant’s pocket. It’s really up to the consumer to make a personal decision on their nutrition preferences. I don’t know if CKE is on the right sales and marketing track. If they report higher sales and earnings, then we will know for sure.
“Food is the new tobacco.”
I’m fascinated to watch how this concept will play out. As a nation, we’re literally killing ourselves with food. We’re giving ourselves heart attacks, diabetes, and who knows what kinds of cancer by overeating and eating the wrong foods. It seems to me that humongous portion sizes and calorie-laden foods will decrease in social acceptability. That said, a milk shake is a milk shake. It’s an indulgence. A burger, on the other hand, is seen as a core part of the meal.
One of my biggest concerns with fast food is its price. It’s so cheap that it targets the least economically advantaged segments of society. Healthy salads can cost up to $7. Are fast food companies becoming like tobacco companies who market to minority groups and the poor?
It is all fun and games until some gets hurt. As soon as customers begin to place blame on fast-food for health issues, Hardee’s will be first in line. People make choices but they also place blame on being influenced. Just like the story about a garden some time ago. Hardee’s will have to be careful on how they send their message and not get carried away with short term success. I would be surprised if this is a save all proposition. Short term it may bring bottom line but long term it is defiantly a wait and see.
Anxiety + affordability = indulgence. In a perfect world we would all look like models, all our bills would be paid and there would be peace among all nations. Until then, the occasional ice cream treat is a necessity.
It’s really very interesting watching everyone fight for the consumer dollar. If differentiation was the marketing strategy behind this “new” monster burger, then it worked. I would assume there was some consumer research to back up the move. I am sure the consumer said maybe they were sick and tired of being on a diet or calorie counting and wanted something that would trip their food trigger. I guess time will tell if this was a successful venture.
Some people like to hog-out at the trough, some people don’t. Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. have targeted their audience: people who want to eat lots of greasy but tasty over-caloried burgers and rich creamy shakes, do it for a several bucks, and enjoy doing it without being surrounded by guilt. CKE isn’t into trying to save people from being obese. They apparently believe that the secret to success in their business is to serve their particular customer base with the overly-rich food they like and let the food fight it out inside. Culver’s in the upper Midwest follows the same methodology with their huge butter burgers and super rich shakes … and they are growing.
We recently discussed Burger King’s massive omelet. More of the same here. It has little to do with health or proper nutrition and everything to do with fulfilling one’s appetite and desire for something with good taste. Not everyone wants to eat “healthy” all the time. Sometimes, people just want to over-indulge on things that (to them) taste really good. There are plenty of customers that will flock to these offerings and, by doing so, support the business decision by CKE to offer them.
Being a consumer is a choice. By including more items on the menu, you strike an appeal to a larger customer base. While some customers will run scared from larger portions, others will embrace it. We all make buying decisions based on our own values and needs. It’s about mass appeal and getting money into the register.
David Livingston, you’re my hero, along with nearly all of the other contributors to this discussion. Most fat people are fat by choice. Let’s respect their decisions.
Count me in with the folks who are pro-choice, let the suckers kill themselves if they want to, it’s their decision. CKE are probably doing the public a service by offering them the opportunity to stuff themselves and speed up the suicide process. Why not throw in a discount on guns and ammo, tobacco or alcohol with loyalty points?
I enjoy a good burger and a good shake. Sometimes together. But not very often and not so large as the CKE offerings. Other people feel differently about this – on both extremes.
With the 2,200 calorie burger/shake combo, Carl Karcher Enterprises appears to have made a positioning choice – aimed at big eaters. These may not always be fat people. I recall (wistfully) that in my teen years my friends and I would go out and consume a very similar menu (plus fries) one hour after finishing supper at home. And I was rail-thin in those days (*sigh*).
But today CKE doesn’t grab me with those offerings. I’m no longer growing like weed (at least not vertically) and I’ve acquired a taste for foods that should help me live a longer, healthier life. That’s what makes horse racing in the fast serve business (pardon the reference). Carl’s and Hardee’s have a right to target quantity consumers. If the strategy works for them for a while, that’s OK.