Wendy's testing flatbread product, pretzel burger

by Keith Nunes
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BOSTON — The Wendy’s Co. is currently test marketing two premium-oriented products that use flatbread and pretzels as carriers to differentiate the items in the quick-service-restaurant space. One item is a flatbread chicken product and the second is a pretzel bacon burger.

“We want you to say if I go to Wendy’s, I am getting something different,” said Steve Hare, chief financial officer for Wendy’s, in a presentation at the UBS Global Consumer Conference on March 14.

Mr. Hare said the flatbread chicken product is representative of what Wendy’s executives talk about in terms of innovation and why Wendy’s is different from other Q.S.R.s.

“If you look at other Q.S.R.s, I don’t think you are going to find anything close to this product,” he said. “It is operationally a little complex. We have taken our time, worked that through to the testing, so we can do that and still meet our time standards for a fast-food operation.”

The pretzel bacon burger is designed to give Wendy’s some separation in the burger category, Mr. Hare said.

“We recognize we are not just competing with McDonald’s and Burger King and the other burger players,” he said. “We have got people like Five Guys that are out there pulling at our premium customers and we want you to be able to go to a Five Guys and compare the experience to a Wendy’s and say, ‘look, we use fresh beef, they use fresh beef. I dare you to say that our product is not at parity.’”

With product parity established against premium burger companies like Five Guys, Wendy’s hopes to use the operational efficiencies of a fast-food enterprise to further differentiate it.

“It is going to cost you 40% less and if you are time-constrained, you are also going to have the convenience of a drive-through,” Mr. Hare said. “I think that is a compelling difference as we stake out the battle for premium burger customers and that is a wedge we want to continue to drive.”
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