Global businesses are in a unique position.
While core products should define the business model no matter what country they are in, on the sidelines, companies are often required to take some liberties with localized products to appeal to specific regions.
Last year, for example, Burger King Japan captured international attention with its Kuro Burger, a limited time offer (LTO) featuring a charcoal-tinted black bun, black cheese, and a garlic-and-pepper heavy black sauce.
While the burger’s novel and unusual appearance captivated foodies on a global level, it seemed pretty clear that a burger with the same flavors would fail to attract consumers in the North American market. So Burger King got savvy, launching a new Halloween Whopper that takes the visual impact of the Kuro Burger and marries it to familiar and welcome taste.
In its press release announcing the new burger, Burger King confirmed that its Halloween Whopper burger is absolutely inspired by the buzzworthy Kuro Burger it launched in Japan, cultural localization is certainly at work here—in a press release announcing this latest launch, Burger King asserted that while its new burger is “curious to the eye,” its flavor is “familiar and savory to the palate.”
The flavor behind the Americanized version of the black-bunned burger is none other than A1 steak sauce—a logical choice of partner, as Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital share equity and interest in both Burger King and Kraft Heinz Company (the parent behind the A1 brand).
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The burger will feature A1’s smoky flavor baked directly into the bun, as well as a layer of A1 Thick and Hearty Sauce added to the more classic Whopper toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayonnaise:
“Our U.S. guests have been extremely curious about the bun flavors they’ve seen introduced in Japan and other countries, so we saw the opportunity to bring them an equally unique experience,” said Eric Hirschhorn, Chief Marketing Officer, for the BURGER KING® Brand North America. “We tailored the flavor of the black bun to the American palate with A.1. sauce, a flavor this country loves, and we’re delivering it in a way that’s never been done before by baking it into the bun. It may look Japanese but it tastes like America.”
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This is perfectly in line with Burger King’s current strategy. Burger King is all about the partnerships lately, and while they don’t always come together the way that the royal Miami-based burger chain might like, they often tend to equate to some great publicity.
What’s more, this new LTO managed to appeal to American tastes while maintaining some of the unusual intrigue that makes novelty limited offers so much fun.
If enough consumers are fascinated enough to bite, this could give Burger King a strong boost for the season.
Click here to read the September 2015 edition of Business Review USA!