I enjoy the occasional burger. That may be an understatement. Not the occasional part. That’s true. It’s the enjoy part. I don’t enjoy the occasional burger. I absolutely love the occasional burger. Now while I prefer locally sourced, grass fed beef from cows that only wear skinny jeans and hipster glasses, a burger is a burger. I’m sure that a lot of people, specifically local burger joints would disagree with me, but sometimes a good old fashioned fast food hamburger is tasty, you know? But the emphasis is on the old fashioned part. Fast food joints have gotten out of hand. You don’t need to wrap a burger inside a breaded chicken breast, deep fry it, put it in a taco and then blend that into a smoothie. You just need to cook a hamburger.
But occasionally a company gets it right. And thus is the case with Wendy’s new Jalapeno Fresca Chicken Sandwich. Now first off, Wendy’s makes a damned good chicken sandwich in the first place. Aside from potentially the KFC Big Crunch, it’s the best chicken sandwich in the business. Ok. I promise you that this post is not JUST a post about burgers. Just stick with me. We’re getting to it. Quite a few years back, McDonald’s streamlined their process. They decided on the perfect number of pickles, the perfect amount of onions and the perfect amount of ketchup. And they did the exact same thing for years. And it worked. But then other companies started coming out with new burgers, new toppings and new gimmicks an the game began.
Now when it comes down to it, most of these new burgers are garbage. These companies all make their own versions of the same things using whatever toppings and ingredients are popular at the time and you end up with the quadruple bacon bypass, the maniacal maple and the easy, cheesy, beautiful burger sandwich. Boring. The same thing over and over again. And then came the Jalapeno Fresca Chicken Sandwich. It promises to be spicy and it’s spicy. This seems like a no brainer but there are an awful lot of products that promise to be something and don’t deliver. An awful lot. But this one does. It’s spicy. It’s tasty. It works. But this isn’t a post to extol the virtues of Wendy’s Jalapeno Fresca Chicken Sandwich. It’s to tell you what a bad idea it is.
You see, here’s the rub. In a couple of months, that particular product will no longer be on the menu. People will think of it. They’ll want it. They’ll be annoyed that it’s not available and they’ll go back to eating whatever they ate before. Don’t reinvent the wheel. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Do what you do and do it well. People are fed up with gimmicks. They don’t want a giant poster of a jalapeno. They don’t want a meter that shows how spicy each component of their new sandwich is. They want a delicious burger.
Now, if you come up with a great product, add it to the menu. New ideas are great. It’s ok to innovate. In fact it’s important to innovate. But when the rubber meets the road, the most important thing is that you’re producing and selling a product that your customers want. When the Jalapeno Fresca Chicken Sandwich goes away, it will be missed. And then forgotten. Because that’s what happens when you innovate as a marketing gimmick rather than as a business plan.
Now go have a burger.