Wendy's eyes menu upgrade

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Climbing to “a cut above”

The higher-quality food aspects, from the ingredients in Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy to similarly upgraded chicken sandwiches slated to debut early next year, will help Wendy’s reclaim a positioning officials said the brand had lost, which Brolick described as being “a cut above.”

“This is the natural position for the brand,” Brolick said. “We went through a period of time as a brand where we stepped back from this position, and we have to step back into it. I’m not suggesting that we want to become a Five Guys or Smashburger or something like that … but I do believe there’s a significant opportunity in the marketplace for higher-quality products that are fresh, made-to-order products.”

While Brolick complimented the “new QSR” chains in fast casual like Chipotle, Noodles & Co. and Five Guys for elevating food quality and freshness — even going so far as to reference Chipotle’s “Food With Integrity” slogan — he said Wendy’s is the traditional fast-food chain most suited for making that kind of quality its competitive advantage.

Introducing the W mid-tier sandwich so soon to the launch of the more premium burger is meant to move sales from the lower price points rather than encourage trade-down from Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy, Brolick said.

“We’re trying to have a price point at $2.99 that is closer to where some of the My 99 or $1.29 products are so we trade people up into those products,” Brolick said. “Believe me, we’re going to continue on an ongoing basis to put some pressure against Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy as we look to next year. As we look back historically, by not putting pressure on some of our core and chicken sandwiches, that contributed to the erosion in some of those products.”

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