Recently I read that Reynolds American, one of the biggest cigarette manufacturers in the world, announced that it would create a subsidiary to develop nicotine gum and other products aimed at helping people to stop smoking.
At first glance, the concept of a cigarette company developing products aimed at helping people stop using cigarettes sounds a little strange. But when I think about it further, it makes sense. Cigarette sales are declining and more smokers are trying to quit. So why shouldn’t Reynolds, and every other cigarette manufacturer for that matter, cash in and try to get money from both sides?
Once I finished reading this story, it occurred to me, why can’t fast-food restaurants do the same thing when it comes to fast-casual establishments that do a better job of luring millennials?
Think about it: Over the past several months, chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s have come out with so many products aimed at trying to bring in millennial customers and combatting the meteoric rise of the fast-casual industry. Has it worked? No! Fast-food sales are down in the U.S., causing the industry leader McDonald’s to pare down its menu and refocus on its core products.
Instead, why doesn’t the fast-food industry develop subsidiaries that create new fast-casual restaurants that automatically attract the millennial clientele? This way, they get money from both millennial and non-millennial sides and can worry less about the declining sales of their fast-food products.
This idea is already being done. Qdoba Mexican Grill, a fast-casual chain with 641 locations across the U.S. and Canada, is a subsidiary of Jack in the Box. And Taco Bell recently launched a fast-casual taco subsidiary called U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Taproom. And lest we forget: McDonald’s was once an investor in Chipotle. (4)
As the old saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Fast food needs to join the fast-casual phenomenon, because it surely can’t beat it.
"Fast Food Should Stop Fighting Fast-Casual, Start Investing In It" originally published on The Menuism Dining Blog.